It might be a silly tradition, but it carries a lot of weight to the National Turkey Federation.
On Monday, President Joe Biden continued a decades-long tradition of pardoning turkeys at the White House.
National Turkey Federation Chair Ronnie Parker presented Biden with two turkeys, Chip and Chocolate, for a presidential pardon. Both turkeys were hatched in North Carolina in July.
Chip is the heavier of the two, weighing in at 47 pounds, while Chocolate weighs 46.
Unlike many of their turkey brethren, Chip and Chocolate will avoid the Thanksgiving dinner table. The two will be cared for by North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The tradition of pardoning a turkey is a bit unclear but seems to have started rather informally. Presidents have been gifted turkeys for the holidays dating back to the 1870s. The National Turkey Federation began providing a turkey for the president in 1947.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy returned that year’s turkey, saying, “We’ll just let this one grow.” White House archives noted that President Richard Nixon would send his turkeys to a petting farm after conducting a photo op.
According to White House archives, it was not until 1989 when President George H.W. Bush granted a turkey a “pardon.” The tradition has been carried out annually ever since.