President John F. Kennedy was the first U.S. President to “pardon” a turkey at the White House, and the ceremony is now a national tradition. Not all presidents have been on board with the idea, however. As CBS news reported:
“Some presidents were clearly more in stuffing & eating the turkey than pardoning it.
“I hadn’t been quite sure what I was going to eat Thanksgiving,” said President Johnson before Thanksgiving in 1964, “but I am glad I can eat turkey instead of crow.
In 1981, on receiving a Tom Turkey from the National Turkey Federation, President Reagan was asked what he’s going to do with Tom.
“Eat him,” said Mr. Reagan straightforwardly.
In 2012, the American public got to vote on a choice for the first time. There were two top contenders, Cobbler and Gobbler, but only one could win. The other won’t be paying the ultimate price, however. Both turkeys, born in Virginia, will spend the rest of their days there as well, in a custom-made enclosure at Mount Vernon, the former estate of the first U.S. President, George Washington.
And the winner taking a victory strut: Congratulations Cobbler!!!
Update: For a look at the 2016 contestants, click here.