Obama pardons Thanksgiving turkeys: no 'shellacking' this day

President Obama pardoned turkeys 'Apple' and 'Cider' at the White House Wednesday morning, but the two won't be making what had become a traditional trip to Disneyland.

Charles Dharapak/AP
President Barack Obama stands with National Turkey Federation Chairman Yubert Envia and daughters Malia and Sasha as he pardons Apple, the National Thanksgiving Turkey Wednesday at the White House.

President Obama deployed a little self-deprecating humor as he pardoned the national Thanksgiving turkey and its understudy Wednesday.

“Now, for the record, let me say that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November,” Mr. Obama said, his daughters at his side, referring to the beating Democrats took in the Nov. 2 midterm elections.

This year, the 63rd anniversary of the national Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, Obama pardoned Apple and Cider. According to the White House, the birds are 21 weeks old, weigh 45 pounds each, and hail from Foster Farms Wellsford Ranch outside Modesto, Calif. They were named by California schoolchildren. No word on what exactly the birds had done wrong, but they were reportedly relieved to escape the death penalty.

Once pardoned, the turkeys will be driven to George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Va. Apple will be on display there until Jan. 6, after which both turkeys will live at the homestead’s livestock facility. No trip to the unfortunately named Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Va., or to Disneyland for a turn as honorary grand marshals of Disney’s Thanksgiving Day parade, to name the assignments of recent predecessors. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, had claimed the birds died from neglect or harsh conditions at Frying Pan Park, thus the switch to Disney in 2005. No word on why Apple and Cider don’t get to meet Mickey and Minnie.)

The White House dates the official turkey presentation to the Truman administration, but those birds wound up on the dinner table. In 1963, upon being presented a live bird, President Kennedy said, “Let’s just keep him.” But the formal pardoning tradition didn’t begin until 1989, under President George H.W. Bush.

In addition to the two live turkeys, two dressed turkeys were presented to the Obama family by Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pa. They will be given to Martha’s Table, a Washington, DC, charity that helps people in need.

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