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Each Thanksgiving two lucky turkeys are saved from impending death and join that exclusive list of birds who have stood in the Rose Garden with the president of the United States.
They’re lavished with attention, given an overnight stay at the historic Willard Hotel and provided instant celebrity.
— Cooper Farms (@CooperFarms_) November 25, 2014
But what about the two less fortunate turkeys also sent to the White House each year? Where’s their recognition? No honor for the dead?
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Dating back to the Kennedy administration, the National Turkey Federation has every year asked the same turkey farm in Orefield, Pa. to send two dressed (a nicer word for ready-to-eat) birds to the first family. Jaindl Turkey Farms proudly boasts on its Web site that it has been asked to “supply the turkey that graces the holiday table at the White House each Thanksgiving.”
— Melanie Falcon (@Melanie_Falcon) November 19, 2014
But, at least in the Obama White House, the president’s family does not eat the Jaindl turkeys. Instead, throughout his presidency, Obama has donated the birds to a local charity. Where the White House gets the turkey that is eaten by the first family on Thanksgiving is a state secret.
“For a variety of reasons, including security of the White House food supply, we aren’t usually able to give out details on where we get food, beverages, etc.,” a White House official told the Loop.
When the Turkey Federation started giving turkeys to the White House in 1947 the intention was for the president to eat them, a spokesperson for the turkey group said. Since at least 1962, those turkeys have always come from Jaindl, specifically its Grand Champion brand. No one we talked to could confirm whether Obama is the first president to give the Jaindl turkeys away.
David Jaindl, who runs his family’s turkey farm business, said he sent two 30-pound turkeys to the White House last week. Jaindl’s only proof that presidents of the past ate his turkeys are from thank-you notes he’s received over the years. He recalled one particularly kind one from President George H.W. Bush, who wrote a glowing review of his turkey meal.
“We’re happy to send two turkeys down, and we hope the president and the family try them,” Jaindl said. “But if they want to give them to charity, that’s fine with us also.”
Obama has thanked Jaindl Farms for their turkeys at previous pardoning ceremonies, but the real headliners, the ones who get all the glory, are the two turkeys who survive.
We asked Jaindl, after all the decades of supplying the White House with ready-to-eat turkeys, if he’d like to see two birds from his farm get the pardoned star treatment.
“Yea,” he said, not missing a beat. “That’d be nice.”