President Biden on Friday pardoned two Indiana turkeys, officially sparing them from ending up on somebody’s Thanksgiving dinner table.
Mr. Biden used his clemency power to save Peanut Butter and Jelly, two turkeys that weigh 40 pounds each and hail from Farbest Farms in Jasper, Indiana.
The two were selected out of 20 turkeys, or as Mr. Biden jokingly called it, “a turkey presidential primary.”
“It is important to continue tradition to remind us in darkness there is light, hope and progress. That’s what this year’s Thanksgiving, in my view, represents,” Mr. Biden said.
“So many of us will be gathered with our loved ones for the first time in a long time,” Mr. Biden said, noting America’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. “And we’ll be reconnecting to traditions with tables and our hearts full of grace and gratitude.”
After the Rose Garden pardoning ceremony, Peanut Butter and Jelly will travel to Purdue University, where they will live out their days in the school’s Animal Science Research and Education Center.
The two birds will be housed in an enclosed, indoor space with access to a “shady, grassy, area,” according to a press release from Purdue.
Ahead of their clemency summit with Mr. Biden, Peanut Butter and Jelly were treated to an overnight stay at the Willard InterContinental in downtown Washington.
At a welcoming ceremony Thursday, Ernie Arias, the director of sales and marketing, joked that the “VIP guests” appeared to have “slept very well.” Mr. Arias said they also had baths and ordered room service.
The origins of the annual White House turkey pardon are shrouded in mystery. Some say it started when President Lincoln set free a bird that his family planned to eat for Christmas, after his son Tad pleaded with him to set it free.
In 1963, just before his assassination, President Kennedy decided to send back the Thanksgiving turkey that arrived at the White House, saying it should grow. Mr. Kennedy never formally granted the turkey clemency, however.
Some have credited President Truman with the pardon, but in 2003 his presidential library said there were no documents, speeches, or newspaper clippings suggesting that he ever pardoned a turkey during his presidency.
The first official pardoning began in 1989 by President George H. W. Bush. It has happened every year since then.