Here’s the Scoop on the Presidential Turkey Pardon

This year’s turkeys are named Tot and Tater, and one of them will be pardoned by President Obama on Thursday

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It’s a quirky presidential tradition that dates back decades.

In the spirit of the holidays, U.S. presidents dating back to Kennedy take a break from legislation and international diplomacy to pardon a turkey on Thanksgiving. What started as a retroactive nod to President Abraham Lincoln sparing his son’s turkey from becoming Thanksgiving dinner has become an official ceremony.

This year, the turkeys are named Tater and Tot, and the public can vote on which turkey will received the official presidential pardon at a ceremony this afternoon in the Rose Garden, according to Yahoo. Both, however, will be sent to retire at Gobbler’s Rest at Virginia Tech University. Each year, the turkeys come from family farms provided by the National Turkey Foundation.

George H.W. Bush was the first president to pardon his turkeys in an official ceremony, and in 2009, Obama became the first president to pardon both turkeys instead of only one.

Just because the Obama family pardons a turkey every year doesn’t mean their Thanksgiving table is without a stuffed bird. Every year, the White House gets its turkeys from Jaindl Farm, which was recently accused of poor animal welfare. The, farm however, proved with video evidence that its turkeys are happy and healthy… until the end of November, that is. 

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