U.S. President Donald Trump continued a 72-year-old White House Thanksgiving tradition by pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony in the Rose Garden on Tuesday.
The two turkeys chosen for the Presidential pardon are named Bread and Butter.
After polls were open for 24 hours for Americans to vote online, this year’s honoree, “Butter,” won a close vote over his competitor, “Bread.”
Both turkeys will be joining last year’s contestants, Peas and Carrots, for some much-deserved rest and relaxation at Virginia Tech’s Gobblers Rest exhibit in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Bread and Butter were raised on a farm near Huron, South Dakota.
The Presidential Flock of 50 turkeys was hatched in July, and Bread and Butter were selected to travel to Washington, D.C.
The “Presidential Flock” is raised much in the same way as turkeys marketed for U.S. customers—protected from weather extremes and predators in a barn, free to strut about with constant access to water and a feed mix of corn and soybeans.
The flock is prepared for potential stardom at the White House from an early age, with the birds becoming acclimated to the sounds of a crowd, bright camera lights, and having to stand comfortably on a table during the presentation.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2019
History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon
Turkeys have been sent as gifts to American Presidents from as early as the 1870’s, sometimes arriving in elaborate crates and costumes.
By the 1920’s, the influx of these turkeys had increased so greatly that President Calvin Coolidge discouraged Americans from sending them, reported a 1923 New York Times article.
Eventually, however, the tradition resumed, and President Coolidge received not only turkeys, but quail, ducks, geese, rabbits, and a deer.
The most unusual gift was a raccoon, which was not served for dinner but became a Coolidge family pet.
In the 1940s, farmers and manufacturers began to send birds to the White House as a means of promoting the poultry industry.
President George H. W. Bush was the first to formally grant the bird a Presidential pardon, taking a cue from the animal rights activists picketing nearby.