Turkey Pardoning


The Washington Post

President Biden pardoning Peanut Butter and Jelly in his first presidential turkey pardon.

Morgan Turpin, Staff Writer

Have you ever heard of a turkey pardoning? I bet that you have. The turkey pardoning is a yearly tradition where the President of the United States pardons a turkey. It all started during the presidency of John F. Kennedy and has carried on to this day. 

Reports of turkeys as gifts to U.S. presidents trace back to the 1870s. Well-fed birds were sent to the White House from a Rhode Island poultry dealer named Horace Vose. According to Whitehousehistory.com, Vose began sending the birds, but the First families didn’t always eat them. Due to this yearly offering, it made Vose get “widespread publicity and became a veritable institution at the White House.”

Did you also know that the pardoned turkeys have names? Well, now you do! Each turkey has been given a name for years. Some of these names include:

  • Peas and Carrots, pardoned by President Trump
  • Corn, pardoned by President Trump
  • Charlie, pardoned by President Reagan 
  • Popcorn and Caramel, pardoned by President Obama
  • Liberty, pardoned by President Obama
  • Biscuits, pardoned by President Bush
  • Jerry, pardoned by President Clinton

This year, President Biden pardoned two turkeys named “Peanut Butter” and “Jelly.” These two turkeys gobbled on up to the White House and made their debut on November 18th, 2021. They were pretty well behaved, according to Senator Mike Braun. According to Hill.com, Peanut Butter and Jelly weren’t small turkeys. Weighing in at around 40 lbs. each, the lucky pair of birds were raised by the National Turkey Federation, Chairman Phil Seger, and turkey grower Andrea Welp, in cooperation with Farbest Farms. 

The turkey pardon is such a big tradition for the U.S. that they even made a movie about it. The movie is called “Free Birds,” and it’s currently on Netflix. 

Overall, turkey pardoning is a fun and interesting tradition for the United States that I hope will continue.