President Biden pardoned two turkeys at the White House Monday, continuing a presidential tradition of letting some birds off the hook for Thanksgiving.
The National Turkey Federation has donated turkeys to the president ahead of Thanksgiving since 1947 under President Harry Truman. President John F. Kennedy is believed to be the first president to spare the turkey, and President George H. W. Bush was the first to formalize the “pardon” tradition.
Biden last year pardoned turkeys named “Peanut Butter” and “Jelly” from Indiana. This year’s turkeys, “Chocolate” and “Chip,” which the president noted is his favorite ice cream flavor, come from North Carolina.
Biden delivered remarks at the White House event, which he said he would keep short because “nobody likes it when their turkey gets cold.”
The president also joked that the only red wave this year will be if his large German Shepherd dog, named Commander, knocks over the cranberry sauce during Thanksgiving, in a nod to the midterm elections which did not see overwhelming Republican victories as expected.
“First of all, the votes are in, been counted, verified, no ballot stuffing, there’s no foul play. The only red wave this season is going to be if German Shepherd Commander knocks over the cranberry sauce on our table,” said Biden.
“And now, based on their temperament and commitment to be productive members of society, I hereby pardon Chocolate and Chip,” he said.
The pardons come one day after Biden turned 80 and became the first president to hit that milestone in office.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates at 40 million turkeys will be consumed at Thanksgiving this year.
The president also claimed his home state of Delaware has “more chickens than anybody in the nation,” which is false. The poultry industry plays a significant role in Delaware, but the state is not even in the top ten for chicken populations.