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Epicurious finds traffic spike difficult to digest

Holiday chefs scrambling for last-minute turkey recipes may want to stick to mom's this year.

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Holiday chefs scrambling for last-minute turkey recipes may want to stick to mom's this year.

Cooking sites, such as magazine publisher Conde Nast's Epicurious.com, are experiencing dramatic spikes in traffic as Thanksgiving approaches. And in Epicurious' case, frantic Thanksgiving chefs are even causing slowdowns and periodic outages on the site's recipe page.

It is a scenario that has become an Internet classic: Web sites become immensely popular, and then their services crash. The problem has plagued Internet heavyweights such as America Online, eBay and Amazon.com for years.

But for other specialty Web sites, such as Epicurious, BettyCrocker.com or MarthaStewart.com, certain periods mean dizzying traffic surges that sometimes surprise companies unprepared for an onslaught.

Epicurious has experienced slowdowns throughout the day, according to Sarah Chubb, director of CondeNet, Conde Nast's online division.

"We got calls this morning, and we're in the middle of adding a new server," Chubb said.

The site has experienced twice the amount of traffic it received a year ago, a jump from 500,000 users to Tuesday's 1 million, according to Chubb. But she is not overly concerned with the site's brief flickers. She expects that its popular recipe database will be up and running later today.

"[Outages are] a part of technology," she said. "You learn from this."

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