To say that this is a strange moment in American politics would be an understatement. Between this year’s long election cycle—the results of which President Trump is still disputing—and the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of things are in flux in Washington DC.
And many Americans are headed into a very unusual holiday season, including a Thanksgiving where people are discouraged from traveling and gathering with guests.
But even with so many of our traditions and customs put on hold, one annual event still went on as scheduled: the traditional “Turkey pardoning” at the White House.
Every year, turkeys—typically male Broad Breasted White turkeys—are donated to the White House by American farmers, and presented to the US president by the National Turkey Federation.
The selected turkeys receive a presidential “pardon”—i.e., they are spared from becoming someone’s dinner.
This year, the turkeys selected were Corn and Cob, from West Liberty Foods in West Liberty, Iowa.
The birds arrived in Washington DC in style, complete with the red carpet treatment:
And a luxurious suite at the Willard InterContinental Hotel:
The pardoning ceremony took place at the White House this afternoon.
A poll asked people to vote for either Corn or Cob, and Corn got the official honor. However, both turkeys received full “pardons” from President Donald Trump.
“Corn, I hearby grant you a full pardon,” Trump said.
Watch the ceremony below:
Both Corn and Cob will get to live the rest of their lives at Iowa State University.
The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a tradition that dates back to the 1940s, however, the “pardon” wasn’t always part of the custom.
Many presidents, including Eisenhower and Truman, did in fact eat their turkeys, although others spared their lives, including Jimmy Carter and John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy, presented with a turkey that said “Good eating, Mr. President!” spontaneously opted to spare the bird — three days before his assassination in 1963.
Ronald Reagan formally “pardoned” his turkeys, and his predecessor, George H.W. Bush made it the annual custom every president has followed since.
In recent years President Trump has previously pardoned turkeys like Drumstick and Wishbone, Bread and Butter, and Peas and Carrots.
Ironically, Trump joked at the 2018 ceremony that while Peas won the vote, Carrots “refused to concede,” foreshadowing Trump’s own 2020 situation.
“This was a fair election,” Trump said. “Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount, and we’re still fighting with Carrots. I will tell you we’ve come to a conclusion. Carrots, I’m sorry to tell you the result did not change.”
Congrats to Corn and Cob on their presidential pardon! We hope they live happy healthy lives—far from anyone’s dinner plate.
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