President Biden issued the first pardons of his presidency on Friday to two turkeys named Peanut Butter and Jelly in a ceremony at the White House. “With the power vested in me, I pardon you this Thanksgiving,” President Biden said to Peanut Butter at the ceremony.
When given the opportunity to talk, Peanut Butter wittily remarked, “gobble gobble.”
The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation
Each Thanksgiving at the White House, a ceremony takes place in which the POTUS is presented with a live domestic turkey by the National Turkey Federation (NTF). The ceremony began in the 1940s. For the while, the turkeys were usually slaughtered and eaten. However, since the presidency of George H.W. Bush, it became a tradition to pardon the turkey.
It’s interesting to note that the first president to (unofficially) pardon a turkey was Abraham Lincoln, who instructed the White House to save a bird that was given to him, for Lincoln’s son had grown fond of the bird, and Lincoln was a big animal lover.
How Are National Thanksgiving Turkeys Selected?
According to Wikipedia, the turkeys are raised in “the same fashion as turkeys designated for slaughter and are fed a grain-heavy diet of fortified corn and soybeans to increase the birds’ size.
A flock of between 50 and 80 birds, typically from the farm of the current National Turkey Federation chairperson, are selected to be acclimated to handle loud noises, flash photography, and large crowds; from the flock, the 10 to 20 best-preened and best-behaved are chosen and eventually narrowed down to two finalists, whose names are chosen by the White House staff from suggestions by school children from the state where they were raised.”
Peanut Butter and Jelly join a long list of funny names school children gave to pardoned turkeys. In past years, pardoned turkeys have been named Pecan (2008), Biscuits (2004), Marshmallow (2005), Popcorn (2013), and Caramel (2013).
Traditions are so weird. Has there actually not been a turkey served at the Whitehouse in over thirty years?
Or does pardoning the turkey in the public ceremony just condemn another turkey behind the curtains? Do they have ham instead?
Jeez, I’m hungry.