Daily Meme: The Turkey Has Landed

  • The White House is expecting a very important guest tomorrow. Said guest is adored by the children of the nation, loves Beyoncé,  is obsessive about exercise, and a total ham in front of the press. He also tastes delicious with cranberry sauce. Yes, we're talking about the national turkey.
  • The White House has gotten really into it this year. 
  • Caramel and Popcorn—formerly known as Viking and Gunnar, were the turkey finalists handpicked from a farm in Minnesota, the top producer of turkeys in the country. Gobblynob, Butterfluff, Ole, and Sven were the unfortunate also-rans who won't be getting a pardon. 
  • It's a pretty clutch gig if you can get it. It comes with an all-expenses paid trip to D.C., a free stay at a fancy hotel, and a chance to spend the rest of your life at Disney World or another retirement home for elderly poultry.
  • Although, ominously, turkeys also never seem to last very long after they visit the White House. "Is Obama casting death spells on these poor birds?" Nope, American fowl are just too fat to live past their Thanksgiving expiration date, pardon or not.
  • And, as The New York Times relayed in 2007, "the presidential birds don’t get a big send-off when they die, despite the fanfare accorded them in life. 'They are disposed of,' said Sherrie Rosenblatt, vice president of the National Turkey Federation."
  • Only one pardoned turkey has weighed over 70 pounds, though. Most have been a considerably hefty, if unremarkable by our current standards 40 to 50 pounds. 
  • Badger, Minnesota, where this year's turkey's came from is a pretty small town, with only 375 human residents. On the other hand, there are over 70,000 turkeys living there, making it a buzzing bird metropolis.
  • The first White House turkey pardon happened in 1989. It's been an annual event since. 
  • Although some people wish we would just stop with the poutry pardoning already.
  • North Dakota, Utah, Iowa, and a few other states also pardon turkeys. When Jack Dalrymple, North Dakota's governor, pardoned Dakota in 2011, he said, "I don't know. He doesn't look like he appreciates it.”
  • This year, one of the loser turkeys—a sibling of the soon-to-be-pardoned named "Delicious"—was sent to the Salvation Army to feed the needy this holiday.
  • President Lincoln reportedly pardoned his son Tad's turkey.
  • Other presidents dabbled in turkey pardoning too, as evidenced by this piece titled "That Time Gerald Ford Taunted a Pardoned Turkey With the Corpse of Its Dead Comrade."
  • The first turkey to be sent to the White House for consumption, however, was delivered to President Grant in 1873.
  • The National Turkey Federation, which ships condemned and pardoned bird alike to the White House, used to put a sign around the turkeys necks—"Good Eating Mr. President"—for the birds destined for the White House table. 
  • President Bush joked in 2008 that Dick Cheney had wanted to name the pardoned turkeys "Lunch" and "Dinner." In 2004, he remarked on the nasty campaign surrounding the contest to name the national turkeys, citing "attack ads from a group called 'Barnyard Animals for Truth' and what he says was a scurrilous film called Fahrenheit 375 Degrees—at Ten Minutes Per Pound."
  • Benjamin Franklin originally wanted the turkey to be our official bird, rather than the eagle. President Nixon thought that was stupid. "I think when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, it would have sounded rather funny to say, '(The) Turkey has landed,' and today I think you will all agree you would not want to eat eagle."

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