(PCM) One of the more odd Thanksgiving traditions is the annual pardoning of the turkeys by the President of the United States. It is said that the tradition dates back to President Abraham Lincoln back in 1863 when according to a White House dispatch report he showed clemency to a turkey in the year of 1865. Others claim that the annual turkey pardon first occurred officially occurred with President Harry S. Truman, as he was one of the first President’s to receive the gift of a turkey from a local farmer, however the Truman Library and Museum disputes this claim as they say there is no record of Truman ever officially pardoning a bird.
The first use of the word “pardon” to describe a President showing reprieve to a turkey was when President John F. Kennedy was presented with a turkey and used the phrase “Let’s keep him going”. The actual pardoning ceremony began in 1989 with President George H.W. Bush, when after dealing with animal rights activists when he was presented with the bird and made the decision to keep the turkey off his holiday dinner table. He felt the bird look nervous and he is quoted as saying “Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy. He’s granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”
From then on the tradition of the annual pardoning of the turkeys continued. This year, Tater and Tot are the two turkeys that will be pardoned by President Obama for Thanksgiving. The two birds will now get to live out the rest of their days at “Gobbler’s Rest” which is a farm in Blacksburg, Virginia. The White House jokingly made profiles for both Tater and Tot which were posted on the official White House Twitter account.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 22, 2016
While both turkeys will be officially pardoned the White House is also conducting a fun poll to see which turkey will officially be named the “National Thanksgiving Turkey”. So far team Tot is in the lead! According to WhiteHouse.gov, the tradition of pardoning two turkeys instead of one started when Sasha and Malia begged their dad to spare both birds during his first turkey pardon back in 2009. Since then, he has spared many pairs of turkeys who have been adorably named Apple and Cider, Mac and Cheese, and Carmel and Popcorn.