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On November 25, 2021, an estimated 46 million unlucky turkeys will become the centerpieces of Thanksgiving dinner tables across the US. However, two gorgeous white toms — Peanut Butter and Jelly — will not be among them. The lucky birds were pardoned by President Joe Biden in an elaborate ceremony held at the White House Rose Garden on November 19, 2021.
Though only one bird — Peanut Butter, in this case — received the official clemency, the alternate — Jelly — also trotted away unharmed. The turkeys will spend the rest of their lives at the Animal Sciences Research and Education Farm at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
"Peanut Butter and Jelly were selected based on temperament, appearance and I suspect vaccination status," President Biden quipped. "Instead of getting basted, these two turkeys are getting boosted."
The turkeys arrived in Washington, D.C, on November 18, 2021. They were transported to the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel in a chauffeured car. After posing for reporters in the hotel's lobby, they retired to their luxurious suite for a good night's rest before the big event.
The 40-pound gobblers were chosen from the "Presidential Flock." The group of 50 birds was bred and born especially for the annual pardoning ceremony by southern Indiana turkey producer Andrea Welp, in cooperation with Farbest Farms. The turkeys were raised to be comfortable around crowds, and, more importantly, remain calm when confronted with cameras. “I know the kids have really had a lot of fun raising the birds, especially dancing to loud music to try to get them used to all of the media attention for their big day,” Welp said.
The annual Thanksgiving custom was initially credited to President Harry Truman. However, that notion was dismissed by the Truman Library staff in 2003 due to a lack of evidence. While President John F. Kennedy did free a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963, he did not call it a pardon. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan did mention "pardon" when sparing a Thanksgiving turkey gifted to him by the National Turkey Federation. However, the US leader was merely trying to deflect a question about a serious political matter.
President George H. W. Bush gave the first official turkey pardon in 1989. "Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table, not this guy," the US leader said. "He's granted a presidential pardon as of right now — and allow him to live out his days on a children's farm not far from here." Since then, every US president has held a formal turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House before Thanksgiving.
We wish Peanut Butter and Jelly a long and blissful retirement. As for the rest of the turkeys? All we can say is, "Gobble, Gobble!"
Happy Thanksgiving from the DOGOnews Team!
Resources: Whitehouse.gov, National Turkey Federation, NPR.org, CNNN.com