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Q: Presidents Thanksgiving Turkey gift - Last stuffed and eaten when???? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Presidents Thanksgiving Turkey gift - Last stuffed and eaten when????
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: johnfrommelbourne-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 28 Jul 2002 05:08 PDT
Expires: 27 Aug 2002 05:08 PDT
Question ID: 46077
Although again I prove I am no intellect as some of the researchers
and questioners obviously are and further that my feeble mind is
easily stimulated by trivial questions I would still like to know a
little of the history of what I see on TV each year and have now for
many years. Namely the annual presentation to the incumbent US
President of a large prime turkey as a gift from the American Turkey
Farmers Association just before each Thanksgiving day.
Each year it appears that the turkey is set free but I figured that if
a long tradition then at some stage way back it must have been stuffed
and eaten as originally intended. Not an urgent question for me but
one which my mate and I were debating earlier tonight prompting me to
ask the question. I suppose any info on the subject would help and be
of interest; i.e how far back tradition goes, Which president ate
turkey last,(if anyone;possibly it has never been eaten!!) etc etc
Subject: Re: Presidents Thanksgiving Turkey gift - Last stuffed and eaten when????
Answered By: bethc-ga on 28 Jul 2002 06:29 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi johnfrommelbourne,

As I began to research your question, the first reference I came
across was from a speech given by President Clinton in Kosovo on the
day before Thanksgiving, 1999.

“THE PRESIDENT: You all know I have an important job, because I'm your
Commander-In-Chief, right? (Applause.) Well, tomorrow, because I'm
also the President and I have broad executive authority, I get home at
10:00 p.m. tonight, we're all dog-tired, but I've got to get up and go
to work tomorrow because I have to do something that every president
has been doing since the 1920s. I have to pardon the Thanksgiving
turkey. (Laughter.) And they bring me a big turkey and we let one go
so we can eat all the others. (Laughter.) And they put this turkey in
a petting zoo for children to see in the Washington area.”

Remarks by The President to the Troops and Officers of
U.S. Task Force Falcon
Base Theatre/Fest Tent, Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
November 23, 1999

Then, searching further, I came across conflicting information as
regards the historic beginnings of this tradition:

“Each year, the President of the United States grants an official
pardon to a Thanksgiving turkey presented to the White House by the
National Turkey Federation. The tradition dates back to 1947, when
Harry Truman issued the first turkey pardon. It is said that he got
the idea from President Lincoln, who refused to kill a holiday turkey
after his son Tad became attached to the bird. The traditional
ceremony is held the day before Thanksgiving in the Rose Garden. (A
second bird is kept out of sight in case the first turkey can’t go
on.) After being pardoned, the turkey is given to Kidwell Farm, a
petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia.”
Dollars, Sense & You, November 2001
Newsletter of the Pennsylvania Credit Union League

So I decided that the best thing to do would be to get the straight
story, right from the horse’s mouth (or the turkey’s beak, as it were)
and I next checked out the National Turkey Federation. As you might
imagine, they are just a wealth of turkey information. It seems that
our President Clinton spoke in error, giving the turkey pardon
tradition more history than it warrants.

“Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation (NTF) has presented the
President of the United States with a live turkey and two dressed
turkeys in celebration of Thanksgiving. The annual presentation of the
National Thanksgiving Turkey to the President has become a traditional
holiday ritual in the nation's capital, signaling the unofficial
beginning of the holiday season and providing the President an
opportunity to reflect publicly on the meaning of the Thanksgiving
season. After the ceremony, the live bird retires to a historical farm
to live out the rest of its years.”
National Turkey Federation

And herein lies the answer to your question-- it would seem that The
President gets to pardon his turkey and eat it too!

The National Turkey Federation website contains more turkey trivia
than you probably ever wanted to know, and presidents loom large in
the traditions. Thanksgiving as a national holiday was first decreed
by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. In 1939, the date was moved by
President Franklin Roosevelt to the last Thursday in November, the
date on which it is presently celebrated.

But, John, just in case you haven’t had your fill of turkey facts,
here are a few additional tidbits:

- In 2000, about 267 million turkeys were raised
- 92 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. 
- The average Thanksgiving turkey weighs in at 15 pounds 
- The mature turkey has an estimated 3,500 feathers (none of which are
- Domesticated turkeys cannot fly
- Turkeys have heart attacks. When the Air Force was conducting test
runs and breaking the sound barrier, fields of turkeys would drop dead
- Turkeys can drown if they look up when it is raining (clearly these
aren’t the most intelligent of birds)

Here are President Bush’s most recent turkey remarks:
The White House: Briefing Room
President Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

And in case you haven’t had quite enough turkey for one day:
Aristotle’s Thanksgiving on the Web
offers a Turkey Quiz.

So as you can see, John, turkeys and US Presidents have had a long and
glorious association, just not quite as long as President Clinton
imagines. And, although I tried, I didn’t find any indication that
turkeys eat ants, just in case you were, perhaps, thinking that they
might be a solution to your problem:
How do I rid my apartment of ants?



Search criteria:
"Thanksgiving turkey" gift  president pardon
"National Turkey Federation" president

Clarification of Answer by bethc-ga on 29 Jul 2002 06:28 PDT
Sir John,

Thanks once again for your nice words and those twinkly little stars.
We do, indeed, keep track of the questions on the board and those who
ask them. Much in the way that a smitten young thing will wait by the
phone to see if the guy calls, we wait by the glow of our computer
screens (growing ever more pasty) to see if our questioner will return
with some words of praise or a report of success. It’s heady stuff.

We are purveyors of words and information, and unlike the painter who
gets to see how nice your house looks when he’s done, or the picture
framer who beholds the look of delight on your face when you pick up
your order; we never get to see the end result of our labors. And so I
thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed my answer, and I am
particularly tickled to hear that your ant problem is under control. I
have also passed your message on to Seedy, but I suspect that he has
already seen it here for himself.

So ring us up again soon, John. We just love hearing from you.


johnfrommelbourne-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Yes beth, as your mate said, "a spendid answer" which I learnt much
from and was  entertained by. I did read almost all of the turkeyfed
website which contained muuch of interest including the Ben Franklin
quote that Richard refers to. Suprised to find however that Israel is
way ahead of USA in turkey consumption. I hope you learnt something
about turkies and/or the tradition too.
  N.B With all the questioners available to you researchers I figured
I was just about completly inconspicuous but you have referred to my
"ants" question" (also splendidly answered) which suggests that you do
keep tabs on questions and/or questioners. I got rid of them by the
way with a  mixture of mostly  very thin honey mixed with water and
boric acid  roughly as suggested in answer supplied.  Just one last
thing.  Your colleague "Seedy" has just yesterday  sent me some extra
info to the extra info he had alreday supplied  on another old
question from me on touristy things to do in North Carolina. Could you
please tell him "Johnny" ( as he referred to me) got it and thanks. I
think I now have enough to publish an encyclopedia on tourist options
in N.C

 John From Melbourne

Subject: Re: Presidents Thanksgiving Turkey gift - Last stuffed and eaten when????
From: richard-ga on 28 Jul 2002 08:28 PDT
Splendid answer, bethc

Here's one more turkey fact--if Ben Franklin had his way, it would
have been our national emblem:
"I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of
our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men
who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very
lousy. The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true
original native of America."
--Letter to Sarah Bache
Subject: Re: Presidents Thanksgiving Turkey gift - Last stuffed and eaten when????
From: chromedome-ga on 29 Jul 2002 09:38 PDT

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