President Barack Obama spares gobbler “Popcorn” in the annual presidential pardon ceremony at the White House on Wednesday. Video by PBS NewsHour
The strange, yet heartwarming, tradition behind presidential turkey pardons hit the Web this year letting online voters determine which one of two selected gobblers would have the odds in their favor this Thanksgiving.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 27, 2013
In a twist of the Thanksgiving tradition, Twitter users could join #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn to choose which turkey would be pardoned by President Obama. And the winner was… Popcorn! No worries though, neither turkey will be eaten in a White House feast in the East Room tomorrow.
— WZTV FOX 17 (@wztv_fox17) November 26, 2013
Contrary to popular belief, the tradition of turkey pardoning did not necessarily begin with President Lincoln sparing his son Tad’s tom. The modern tradition actually began after The National Turkey Federation began donating two turkeys to the White House every year since 1947.
Both Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower merely ate the birds, no pardon and no press.In the television age, President John F. Kennedy, asked reporters to view the 55-pound white-feathered turkey, but merely sent it back to its home on the farm. It was only after President Reagan pardoned a turkey near Thanksgiving 1987 to distract the press from the on-going Iran-Contra scandal that the modern tradition began.
Caramel or Popcorn — Americans got to take their pick this year. But just remember that either way, only one turkey pardoned by a president has lived to see a second Thanksgiving.
And be thankful that the Oscars aren’t a choice between a winner and a loser that gets eaten.