Joe Biden Pardons Turkeys Named Chocolate and Chip for Thanksgiving
President Joe Biden took to a podium on the White House lawn Monday morning to pardon two turkeys, named Chocolate and Chip. The annual pardoning of the turkeys has been an American tradition dating back decades.
The annual event has become something of a celebration, with the turkeys set to be pardoned going on a full media circuit and enjoying frankly lavish amenities ahead of their official pardon.
It's quite a bit of fanfare for the two birds.
The tradition as we currently know it dates back to the late 1980s when George H.W. Bush formally pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey, the tradition of a Thanksgiving turkey being given to the President dates back much, much further.
Throughout the years, it became a tradition for various groups to present a turkey to the White House every year. In fact, even before pardons became an official part of the tradition, there was a lot of excitement for the presentation of the turkey to the President.
For example, here's President Dwight D. Eisenhower feeding one a cranberry, which may or may not be a bad attempt at stuffing.
Via the official White House history.
While 1947 was the beginning of the official turkey presentation from the poultry industry, the turkey pardon remained a sporadic tradition. In December 1948, Truman accepted two turkeys and remarked that they would "come in handy" for Christmas dinner. There was clearly no plan for these birds to receive a presidential pardon. The Washington Post used both "pardon" and "reprieve" in a 1963 article in which President Kennedy said of the turkey, "Let's keep him going." During the latter years of the Nixon presidency, Patricia Nixon accepted the turkeys on behalf of the President and in 1973 sent the bird to the Oxon Hill Children’s Farm. The 1978 turkey, presented to First Lady Rosalynn Carter, met a similar fate when it was sent to Evans Farm Inn to live in a mini zoo.
Various presidents had declined to actually eat the turkey, with Ronald Reagan becoming the first person to call in a pardon in 1987. A speechwriter inserted the term into George H.W. Bush's speech in 1989, which formally established the tradition
So, who are the lucky birds who have been pardoned over the years?
1863: Jack Becomes a Family Pet
According to popular legend, the first pardoning came when Abraham Lincoln's son, Tad, became attached to the White House's turkey for that year. The President allowed the bird, named Jack, to live, and it would be free to roam around the White House grounds.
Since then, there were some sporadic pardonings. In 1987, Ronald Reagan pardoned a turkey named "Charlie." Here are some of the other birds pardoned since then.
- 1994: Tom
- 1996: Carl
- 1997: An unnamed 60-pound turkey
- 1998: An unnamed 45-pound turkey
- 1999: "Harry the Turkey"
- 2000: "Jerry the Turkey"
George W. Bush Presidency
- 2001: Liberty and his backup Freedom, named in the wake of the 9/11 attacks
- 2002: Katie, the first-ever female turkey to be pardoned
- 2003: Stars and backup Stripes
- 2004: Biscuits and backup Gravy
- 2005: Marshmallow and alternate bird Yam
- 2006: Flyer and alternate bird Fryer
- 2007: May and backup Flower
- 2008: Backup "vice" turkey named Pumpkin, after the number one turkey Pecan fell ill the night before the ceremony
In 2005, the pardoned birds were sent to Disneyland to live, where they serve as the "honorary grand marshal" of that year's Thanksgiving's Day parade. They started going ot Disneyland after animal rights groups began claiming that the birds had not survived for long once pardoned.
- 2009: Courage and alternate bird Carolina
- 2010: Apple and alternate bird Cider
- 2011: Liberty and an alternate bird named Peace
- 2012: Cobbler and Gobbler
- 2013: Popcorn won an online contest over its identically sized stablemate Caramel, but both were ultimately spared.
- 2014: Cheese and alternate bird Mac
- 2015: Abe, and alternate bird Honest
- 2016: Tater and Tot
- 2017: Drumstick and Wishbone
- 2018: Peas and Carrots
- 2019: Butter and Bread
- 2020: Corn and Cob
- 2021: Peanut Butter and Jelly
- 2022: Chocolate and Chip