KIDSGAZETTE

The luckiest turkeys get presidential pardons

Turkeys are shown in a pen at Root Down Farm in Pescadero, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)
Turkeys are shown in a pen at Root Down Farm in Pescadero, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

Last Thanksgiving, two turkeys named Bread and Butter may well have thought the end was coming.

After being bred to eat, the turkeys found themselves at the White House days before the national holiday that, in part, celebrates slathering cooked turkey with cranberry sauce and gravy and chowing down.

But instead of chowing down, the president showed them mercy.

“Butter, I hereby grant you and full and complete pardon,” President Donald Trump told a gobbling turkey last year, according to NPR. His friend Bread was spared too.

Pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys is a strange political tradition. The first Thanksgiving turkey that was pardoned was definitely meant to be eaten, judging by the “Good Eating, Mr. President!” sign he wore around his neck. But President John F. Kennedy, for some reason, decided against it.

Ronald Reagan was the first president to use the word “pardon” when talking about mercy for a turkey, and that was as a joke during a news conference, according to an in-depth review of the tradition by NPR. Soon after, President George H.W. Bush made the turkey pardon an official event in 1989. His turkey was sent to a children’s farm outside of D.C.

Sometimes, the White House will host online popularity contests for two turkeys, where anyone can vote on which to pardon and which to eat. Both are usually given pardons no matter what.

Some presidents have used the tradition to get in a few dad jokes. As he pardoned two turkeys, Tater and Tot, in 2016, President Barack Obama made several turkey puns.

“I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the ‘gravy train’ to freedom,” Obama said, according to White House archives. “Who met their fate with courage and sacrifice — and proved that they weren’t ‘chicken.’”

Comments: molly.duffy@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.