(WASHINGTON) – President Joe Biden will be issuing the first pardons of his presidency to some lucky turkeys named Peanut Butter and Jelly on Friday.
In a ceremony at the White House this year, Biden will save the fowl couple from turning into Thanksgiving dinner.
With the promise of the National Turkey Federation that there will be plenty of turkeys to devour during this year’s celebrations – if more Americans get together than in 2020 – Biden stuck to the tradition and spared two turkeys from the dinner table this year.
The White House selected the names Peanut Butter and Jelly from a list of options submitted by students in Indiana.
Peanut Butter and his deputy, Jelly, traveled from Jasper, Indiana, to the White House early Wednesday and drove to the country’s capital in a “mini-barn” equipped minivan.
Responsibility for deciding which farm will supply the birds each year rests with the chairman of the National Turkey Federation – a process that Phil Seager, this year’s chairman, began in July when he asked turkey farmer Andrea Welp if she would accept the challenge .
“This turkey needs to learn to sit, stay, and strut a bit in a perfect world and look good for the cameras,” said Segar.
Welp has worked with a small flock for the past six weeks to prepare them for this process, with peanut butter and jelly being viewed as the best-tempered turkeys last week to tackle the big moment, Segar said.
Welp, a third generation farmer from Indiana, said she and her family enjoyed raising the presidential herd and a high point of their careers.
“Given another year of uncertainty with the pandemic, this project was really excited and a pleasure to be able to participate. I know the kids really enjoyed raising the birds, especially the dancing. “Music too loud to prepare for all the media attention on the big day,” Welp said at a press conference Thursday that featured the turkeys first were trampled out of the public eye.
Upon arriving in DC, the two turkeys spent the day before the pardon loosening their feathers at the nearby five-star Willard Hotel.
“We’re also prepping the room to make sure it’s comfortable for you, shaving chips, and making sure your food and water are accessible,” Beth Breeding, spokeswoman for the National Turkey Federation, told ABC News.
“We’re doing our best to make sure we leave the room cleaner than we found it. We’ll tidy up afterwards and then also work with the hotel to make sure the room is cleaned, ”she added.
History of poultry favors
The origin of the presidential turkey pardons is a bit of a blur. Unofficially, reports go back to President Abraham Lincoln, who, at the urging of his son Tad, spared a bird from its poultry decline. However, historian Lina Mann warns that the story might be more folklore than fact.
After Lincoln’s tenure, the White House often received a bird for the holidays from Horace Vose, the “Turkey King” of Rhode Island, who sent his best turkey to eleven presidents over four decades – although those turkeys were already slaughtered and dressed at the president’s table, says man.
The real beginning of what has become today’s tradition has its roots in politics and dates back to the Truman presidency in 1947.
“There was this government-led initiative called ‘Poultry Thursdays’ to preserve various foods after World War II,” said Mann.
“But the poultry industry hesitated because Thursday celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, which were the major holidays in Turkey. So they were outraged, ”she added.
After the White House was flooded with live birds sent as part of a “Hens for Harry” counterinitiative, the National Turkey Federation and the National Board for Poultry and Eggs presented Truman with a turkey to smooth the disheveled feathers and the turkey industry Noteworthy – although the Turkey was not saved from the holiday festival.
Instead, in November 1963, just days before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy began publicly sparing a turkey that was given to the White House. In the years that followed, Mann says, the event got a little more sporadic, with even some first ladies like Pat Nixon and Rosalynn Carter stepping in to receive the guests of honor on their husband’s behalf.
The tradition of public savings made a serious return under the Reagan administration, but the official tradition of poultry pardon in the White House began in 1989 when President George HW Bush offered the first official presidential pardon.
“Let me assure you and that fine Tom Turkey that it won’t end up on anyone’s dinner table – not this guy,” Bush said on November 17, 1989.
“He has now granted a presidential pardon and … allows him to spend his days on a children’s farm not far from here,” he added.
In the 32 years since then, at least one lucky bird has had a few extra chunks each year.
After receiving the first pardons from Biden’s presidency, Peanut Butter and Jelly will return to Indiana to spend the rest of their lives on Purdue University’s Animal Sciences Research and Education Farm.
“The people who will be the next generation of leaders in our industry, so we’re excited to be working with Purdue on this to ensure the turkeys have a home where they can get the highest quality care,” said Breeder.
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