The Washington Post

Nixon nails the turkey pardon

Thanksgiving always reminds us of the time during the Nixon administration when a particularly rambunctious turkey was presented to the late president at the White House.

View Photo Gallery: Thanksgiving traditions at the White House date back centuries, the most famous being the turkey pardon. The first presidential turkey pardon originated with President Harry S. Truman in 1947 and has since become a White House tradition.

The turkey was so flustered that, according to the tale, which is not widely recalled these days, its feet had to be nailed to the table.

We checked our recollection with a few Nixon administration veterans. One of them, who definitely would have known, e-mailed back: “Regarding the effort to restrain the White House Thanksgiving turkey, it is my understanding that at least one year, they nailed its feet to the table.” (Apparently the bird doesn’t have nerve endings in portions of its feet.)

We can only hope the turkey — like the president — was pardoned.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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