The two turkeys selected this year, Peanut Butter and Jelly, are expected to make their appearance in the White House Rose Garden Friday afternoon to vie for the pardon. However, both birds are expected to be spared, according to the National Turkey Federation.
Following the ceremony, they will retire to their home state at Purdue University’s Animal Sciences Education and Research Farm.
The Indiana-raised birds flocked to Washington, DC, this week, staying at the luxe Willard Hotel and attending a news conference on Thursday with the National Turkey Federation ahead of their White House appearance.
“Raising the presidential turkey flock has really been a lot of fun this year. As we all know, with another year of uncertainties with the pandemic, this project has really been something to look forward to,” grower Andrea Welp said on Thursday.
The National Turkey Federation became the official turkey supplier to the first family in 1947 and the formal turkey presentation ceremony has been around since President Harry Truman. Truman was the first to accept a turkey from them — however, he did not spare the bird.
Rumors of turkey pardons go back in presidential history as far as the Lincoln administration. Folklore has it that Lincoln’s young son asked his father to spare a pet turkey that was supposed to be part of their Thanksgiving dinner.
The first documented turkey pardon was given by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, though it didn’t catch on right away. Even though President Gerald Ford pardoned President Richard Nixon, neither one of them decided to officially pardon any turkeys.
Turkey pardoning became the norm in the White House in 1989 when President George H.W. Bush revived the tradition, now a staple of the White House holiday season.
Biden’s decision to go on with the tradition comes on a particularly momentous day.
A new survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation found that Thanksgiving dinner will cost 14% more for Americans this year, with several factors leading to the increased pricing, including more Americans expected to cook at home this year and other economic disruptions. While that survey found that turkey is up 24% since last year, that price is dependent on when the poultry was purchased.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Wednesday that “the good news is that the top turkey producers in the country are confident that everyone who wants a bird for their Thanksgiving dinner will be able to get one, and a large one will only cost $1 dollar more than last year.”