Thanksgiving Tradition – Presidential Pardoning of the Turkeys

Presidential Pardoning of the Turkeys

Every year before the Thanksgiving holiday, the President chooses a turkey or two that will be spared from ending up on your dining room table. In a ceremony at the White House, one official turkey is pardoned and the occasional gobbler, both presented by the National Turkey Federation.

Some say that this tradition started with Harry Truman in 1947*, but it became official in 1989 with President G.W. Bush.
Rumor has it, that President Truman ‘pardoned’ turkey as his selected Thanksgiving meal.
Voters choose names for the lucky birds on the White House website or chosen groups of children.

Here is a list of some previously pardoned turkeys:
1863 – Jack, Tad Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son, kept him as a pet.
1947 – no documentation, the Truman family probably ate it.
1987 – Charlie
1988 – Woody
1999 – Harry
2000 – Jerry
2001 – Liberty
2002 – Katie (the first pardoned female turkey) and Zack
2003 – Stars and Stripes
2004 – Biscuit and Gravy
2005 – Marshmallow and Yam
2006 – Flyer and Fryer
2007 – May and Flower
2008 – Pumpkin and Pecan
2009 – Courage and Carolina
2010 – Apple and Cider
2011 – Liberty and Peace
2012 – Cobbler and Gobbler
2013 – Popcorn and Caramel
2014 – Cheese and Mac
2015 – Abe and  Honest
2016 – Tator and Tot
2017 – Drumstick and Wishbone
2018 – Peas and Carrots
2019 – Bread and Butter
2020 – Corn and Cob
2021 – Peanut Butter and Jelly
2022 – Chocolate and Chip
2023 – Liberty and Bell

After the pardon, both Turkeys retire at Gobblers Rest at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg.

“Virginia Tech has a long tradition of supporting the turkey industry through research and outreach, so it’s fitting that the Presidential Turkeys becoming part of the Hokie Nation is a new tradition,” said Rami Dalloul, a professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Unlike today’s feast consisting of turkey, stuffing, cranberry, and Uncle Ned’s boring stories of Thanksgivings of yore, the original Thanksgiving menu probably consisted of the following items:

Seethed [boiled] Lobster
Roasted Goose
Boiled Turkey
Fricase of Coney
Pudding of Indian Corn Meal with dried Whortleberries
Seethed Cod
Roasted Duck
Stewed Pumpkin
Roasted Venison with Mustard Sauce
Savory Pudding of Hominy
Fruit and Holland Cheese

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