Not All Turkeys Are Equal

Most people know the President officially pardons one turkey each Thanksgiving. But do you know when this fowl discrimination began?

“Each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a bird to the White House. But in 1989, President George H.W. Bush let the gobbler go ungobbled. He felt it was only fair that at least one bird should receive a stay of execution.

Since then, two birds each year — the National Thanksgiving Turkey and the Alternate National Thanksgiving Turkey (in case the National Turkey cannot fulfill its duties) — got to turkey trot off to a Virginia farm to spend the rest of their days in peace. The name of that farm? Frying Pan Park.”

In 2005, feeling that the spared turkeys may be “a little skeptical” going to such a place, President George W. Bush flew them (in a plane dubbed Turkey One) to Disneyland to join the theme park’s other exotic species. Disney spokesman Duncan Wardle (yes, that’s his real name) announced that the plump birds would serve as honorary grand marshals of Disney Thanksgiving Day parades. And that’s what they did each year until 2010, when the tradition changed and the pardoned birds were sent to waddle around President George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.