WASHINGTON —President Joe Biden issued “pardons” Monday to two turkeys, “Chocolate” and “Chip,” sparing the birds from the Thanksgiving table.
They will live out their lives at a poultry research center at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, according to a statement from the White House.
“I hereby pardon Chocolate and Chip,” Biden said during a ceremony on the South Lawn.
Why do presidents pardon turkeys, anyway?
According to the Library of Congress, President Harry S. Truman presided over the first live turkey ceremony by the Poultry and Egg National Board and the event in 1947 established an annual tradition at the White House. Originally, the birds presented were intended for the Thanksgiving meal. Birds given to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s had signs around their necks that read “Good Eating Mr. President.”
Although Kennedy spared the life of his turkey in 1963, the tradition of pardoning White House turkeys can be traced back to Lincoln’s granting clemency to a bird a century before, according to the Library of Congress. Lincoln’s son Tad asked his father to spare the life of the animal, which the boy wanted for a pet.
The first official “pardon” of a turkey was made by President George H. W. Bush in 1989, a tradition that continues today. Biden last year issued pardons to “Peanut Butter” and “Jelly,” turkeys that were then sent to live out their lives at Purdue University’s Animal Sciences Research and Education Center.