The first president to officially “pardon” the turkey was George H.W. Bush, and has been continued throughout the rest of the presidencies. Pres. Obama’s first Thanksgiving in office, after pardoning the turkey announced that he was “Planning to eat this sucker!” His daughters Malia and Sasha told him that he couldn’t. It’s no surprise that Obama wanted to eat the turkey, because the turkeys presented to the president are bred, pampered and hand-picked just for the president. Two are chosen out of 25 hatchlings and then are “trained” to be accustomed to human interaction. They want their turkeys to behave and be calm when the ceremony is televised.
This year’s turkeys have yet to be named but are coming from Willmar Poultry Company. In fact, they were bred and raised by FFA High school members. These high school kids are training with flash photography and rock music to simulate the photography and noise level the ceremony will have. The two lucky turkeys to be pardoned will stay at a high end hotel, (yes, hotel) and will be flown in first class with specially designed seats to buckle them in. After they’re pardoned, they’re going to the livestock facility at Mount Vernon, the previous home of George Washington. Previously pardoned turkeys include: Apple and Cider, Courage and Carolina, Pumpkin and Pecan, May and Flower, Flyer and Fryer, Marshmallow and Yam, Biscuits and Gravy, Stars and Stripes, and Katie and Zac.