President Joe Biden pardoned two turkeys Monday in the annual Thanksgiving tradition on the White House South Lawn.
The turkeys, “Chocolate” and “Chip,” were freed from being Thanksgiving dinner due to the White House’s longstanding tradition of sparing a lucky set of birds. Former President John F. Kennedy is believed to be the first president to carry out the tradition on Nov. 19, 1963, and former President George H.W. Bush formalized the event, according to White House History.
The turkeys were brought to the White House from North Carolina by the National Turkey Federation, which has donated turkeys to the incumbent First Family since 1947. An official at the ceremony purportedly told the president the organization has nearly 9.5 million turkeys.
The president officially pardoned the turkeys for their “commitment to be productive members of society,” and announced their planned trip to North Carolina State University, which he said has one of the best poultry science departments in the nation.
Chocolate was then carried onto the top of the table to make small talk with the president.
Biden also said his home state of Delaware has “more chickens than anybody in the nation.” Iowa contains the largest chicken population in the country, followed by Ohio and Indiana, according to Statista.
The president concluded the ceremony with a reflection on the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday, which he said is to “come together” and give thanks for everything we have. He expressed his gratitude for his fellow Americans and the scientists and researchers who carried the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We can’t forget the reason for Thanksgiving in the first place,” Biden said. “The pilgrims thought it was pretty important in tough times to come together and thank God and be grateful for what we have. That’s what the Thanksgiving tradition is all about: being grateful for what we have, and being grateful for fellow Americans who we may never meet.”
The president pardoned his first set of turkeys from Indiana — Peanut Butter and Jelly — at the event in 2021.