When they pardon the White House Turkey, does another get the axe?

I’ve heard that they pardon the White House turkey every year as an annual Thanksgiving tradition in America. But I have two questions about this:

When did this tradition start and who is responsible?

Am I right to assume that the president proceeds to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner anyway, with a different turkey in it’s place?

If this is so, I certainly hope the US justice system doesn’t work this way. I’d hate to be next in line to the guy who gets pardoned.

IIRC, Truman started the tradition in 47 or 48 and it’s just kinda kept going.

I think the Turkey that gets eaten is one that actually “committed suicide” in protest over the trial:)

All good questions, which bring to mind another one: The pardoned turkey goes to some petting zoo or something in Virginia. I think it is always the same one. So how many pardoned former White House turkeys have they got there now? They must have turkeys dating back to Bush I, unless some of them drowned by looking up in the rain…

As far as what the Pres. eats for Thanksgiving, it must be an anonymous supermarket turkey. I can’t picture the leader of the Free World eating a Tofurkey for Thanksgiving.

I have to wonder… Is this a pardon that goes on the books? If not, then it’s not really a pardon at all. Are there actual legal records regarding this “pardon” or is it just done as a presidential stupid pet trick for the cameras (the “awww” factor)?

From this story:

They’re raised in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

It’s all for show, no “actual” pardon.

Two live turkeys are brought to the White House. The Press Secretary selects the more photogenic of the two to be pardoned and sent to the zoo, while the other is killed and eaten.

Or at least that’s how they did it on The West Wing’s Thanksgiving episode last year.

You know this is about the stupidest thing I have heard in a long while. I don’t think I would make a good president. I could not keep a straight face for a stupid event like this.

I wholeheartedly agree. I think I’d be the first president to say, “On second thought, let’s eat this one.” But I still had to ask the question.

>> Frying Pan Park in Herndon [Virginia]

Are you serious? That’s the name of the place? Why not Stuffed Turkey Oven National Park? It seems more appropriate …

The park is called Frying Pan Park because it is on Frying Pan road, which was named long before the process of allowing turkeys to die from the effects of overeating became a political statement. The turkeys seldom live a year, although it has happened that one survived two years. As often as not, the park has no turkey in residence by the end of the summer.

The honor of maintaining the pardoned turkey has been given to Fairfax County because it was the nearest place that had a petting zoo. The current site was chosen when the private petting zoo, which did it at first, went broke. Now Fairfax County Park Authority gets the honor. The turkey doesn’t get all that many visitors, other than a few reporters during the holidays. (No one actually wants to pet a turkey, as it turns out.) Since there is seldom a turkey there until after Thanksgiving, the question of whether someone ate the previous pardonee comes up every year.

Although the burial of the thanksgiving turkey is not nearly the media event that the pardon is, it happens every year. That was the decision of the Park Authority, although no one has offered to pay for gravestones to commemorate the event, so there is no visible Turkey Graveyard.


“Cabbage: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.” ~ Ambrose Bierce ~

OK, this tradition begs a question - do turkeys have the same post-mortem nervous reaction as chickens?
I mean, how great would it be if right as the Pres was in the middle of doing his stage-managed “pardoning”, the hapless turkey
who didn’t get chosen came running around the corner, spurting blood from it’s severed neck? Or am I the only sick bastard who
imagines scenarios like that?

BTW, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American bros and sis’ on the board and to the non-Americans here, happy, um, Thursday.

>> The park is called Frying Pan Park because it is on Frying Pan road

Yes, but we are showing very little sensitivity towards the feelings of the poor turkey. We should rename the park or send the turkey elsewhere. Who names those roads, anyway? They should be sent to sensitivity training. :wink:

On second thought it might be a good location for a prison with adeath row for an electric chair. Imagine being the warden and saying to Usama ben Landen “Hi, and welcome to Frying Pan Park Correctional Facility; we hope you enjoy your brief stay before you fry”

You’re hoping that Dubya would pardon two turkeys scheduled for execution??? C’mon, they probably had to drag him up there to pardon the first turkey?? :wink:

I thought it went back to Lincon. And it’s all for show - as pointed out these turkeys are bread to grow fast and die early. IIRC more pardoned turkeys don’t make it to the following spring.

I would guess that pardoning them is crueler then killing them.

The link and a snip.


The annual turkey pardoning tradition was begun in 1947 under President Harry Truman, but the ceremony had roots dating back to Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s son Tad burst into a cabinet meeting in 1863 to plead for clemency for a turkey that was sent to the White House for a Christmas feast but became a pet named Jack

Sorry about the broken link. I already lost the page, but I believe the dopers have answered this already, so I’ll let it go. :wink:

Bush the Younger did have a rather odd expression, now that you mention it…

WTF!?! What is that Turkey doing to the Prez!?! :eek: Is it Monica in a turkey suit? Or maybe that pardon involves a quid pro quo?

Turkeys aren’t bread, stuffing are bread. Turkeys are meat.

It would be even more impressive if you pulled out a hatchet from your back pocket and cut off the turkey’s head in front of the media photographers and television crews, laughing diabolically the whole time, and then mugged for the camera with blood splattered across your face, tie, and white shirt.