Two turkeys will avoid the Thanksgiving table this year thanks to a presidential pardon

Trump Pardons Turkey
Susan Walsh

President Donald Trump pardons Corn, the national Thanksgiving turkey, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Washington, as first lady Melania Trump watches. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — The pandemic didn’t put a stop to one annual tradition at the White House this Thanksgiving – two turkeys will now live out the rest of their lives peacefully after being pardoned by the president.

President Trump exercised his pardon power at the Rose Garden on Tuesday. Two birds, Corn and Cob, made the trek from Iowa to Washington, D.C., for the event. The president granted Corn a full pardon, declaring him the national Thanksgiving turkey. However, both will retire to a new home on the campus of Iowa State University. Corn and Cob were raised by Ron Kardel, chairman of the National Turkey Federation and a sixth generation farmer from Walcott, Iowa.

Before the turkey pardon, President Trump called this time “very unusual but in so many ways very very good,” saying the nation can give thanks for vaccine progress.

Ironically, in 2018, President Trump joked about one of the turkeys contesting the election.

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“This was a fair election,” the president joked two years ago. “Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount, and we’re still fighting with Carrots. But I will tell you, we’ve come to a conclusion. Carrots. I’m sorry to tell you, the result did not change. That’s too bad for Carrots.”

Reports of turkeys as gifts to American presidents can be traced to the 1870’s. The history of pardoning turkeys dates back to the 1980’s.

After 1981, the practice of sending the gifted turkey to a farm became the norm under President Ronald Reagan. The formal turkey pardoning ceremony was made official by 1989, when President George H. W. Bush, with animal rights activists picketing nearby, quipped, “But let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy — he’s granted a Presidential pardon as of right now — and allow him to live out his days on a children’s farm not far from here.”