For many people Thanksgiving and a delicious home cooked turkey go hand-in-hand. It is practically an American tradition. But this is not always the case. Presidents pardoning turkeys is a unique tradition that has lasted for decades.
History of Presidential Turkeys
America has a unique history with the turkey. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin said that he wanted the turkey, a “true native of America”, to be the United States national symbol instead of the bald eagle. And over 150 years later, the turkey was finally recognized at the White House, but for a different reason. In 1947, the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board began the tradition of presenting the President of the United States with a turkey during the holidays.
Since President Truman, these turkey gifts usually ended up as dinner, with the exception of President Kennedy who offered to keep his turkey. In 1989, a new tradition began thanks to President George H. W. Bush. He granted his turkey a presidential pardon and said that he would, “live out his days on a farm not far from here.” Since then President George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barak Obama have continued this tradition of pardoning turkeys.
So where do the presidential turkeys go? For the past few years, some of these turkeys have been honorary grand marshals for Disneyland’s Thanksgiving parade. Afterwards, these fortunate birds would reside at Kidwell Farm in Virginia, but recently they have been living out their lives at a Disneyland ranch.
Tips for Pardoning a Turkey
This year, why not take a cue from the Presidents of the United States and pardon a turkey yourself. Check out Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey Project. Since 1986, this farm sanctuary that’s saved over 1,000 turkeys. And with a $30 donation, you can help sponsor a turkey this year and get a special “Adopt a Turkey” certificate.
Another simple way to “pardon a turkey” is by leaving it off of your Thanksgiving menu. Instead, consider alternative forms of turkey like tofurky (which is made from organic tofu), Field Roast turkeys (which are made grain meat), and quorn (which makes meat-free, soy-free turkey feasts). Learn more about turkey alternative click here.