The best named turkeys pardoned by US presidents


WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHNT) — It’s been a tradition since the Reagan years — pardoning turkeys is just part of the job when it comes to presidential duties around Thanksgiving.

The live domestic turkeys, which are donated by private citizens, are pardoned and avoid being part of the Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the centerpiece of what has come to be known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.

In addition to being saved from the dinner table, those turkeys go home with some pretty interesting names.

News 19 compiled a list of the most unique pardoned turkey names ahead of Thanksgiving.

Woody

President Ronald Reagan, with Peter Hermanson, president of the National Turkey Federation, right, takes part in the annual White House Thanksgiving turkey presentation on Friday, Nov. 19, 1988 at Washington in the Rose Garden. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

President Ronald Reagan (R-Calif.) was the first commander-in-chief to pardon a turkey from a spot on the Thanksgiving table. The tradition began in 1987, but was formalized during the Bush Administration in 1989, according to PBS.

Woody was the second turkey pardoned by Reagan. While we don’t know where he earned his name, it’s possible his owner took it from Woody Guthrie, the singer-songwriter responsible for writing “This Land Is Your Land.”

According to the Associated Press, after being pardoned, the gobbler was sent to a pet farm in Virginia.

Pumpkin

President George W. Bush poses with ‘Pumpkin’ the turkey during the Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Pumpkin, aptly named for delicious pumpkin pie, was the final turkey pardoned by President George W. Bush during his tenure in office.

The turkey was donated by Circle Hill Farms in Ellsworth, Iowa. President Bush is pictured with members of the Hill family in the photo above.

Peanut Butter & Jelly

The two national Thanksgiving turkeys, Peanut Butter and Jelly, are photographed in the Rose Garden of the White House before a pardon ceremony in Washington, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In 2021, folks around the Thanksgiving table certainly didn’t find Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Those are the two turkeys pardoned by President Joe Biden in 2021, his first year as commander-in-chief. Both Peanut Butter and Jelly earned their names in unique way. According to NPR, the names were selected from a list submitted by schoolchildren.

The turkeys were raised in Jasper, Ind. and will live out their lives at Purdue University’s Animal Sciences Research and Education Farm.

Marshmallow

President Bush invites local schoolchildren to pet “Marshmallow” at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Earning his name from the fluffy white topping on sweet potato casserole, Marshmallow was the first turkey pardoned by President George W. Bush after being sworn into his second term in 2005.

According to the Associated Press, Marshmallow came from Trites Farms in Minnesota. The turkey was then flown to southern California, where he served as the grand marshal in Disneyland’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

Popcorn

President Barack Obama carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving the national turkey, Popcorn, from the dinner table with a “presidential pardon,” at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The first Thanksgiving after winning a second term in office, President Barack Obama pardoned Popcorn, that year’s chosen turkey.

According to the Associated Press, after the ceremony, Popcorn was taken to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. He was displayed there for visitors during the annual “Christmas at Mount Vernon” event.



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