Washington, D.C. – Each year, shortly before Thanksgiving, the President of the United States is presented with a live domestic turkey to be “pardoned” and spared from being slaughtered. This bizarre White House practice began in 1989 during the first Thanksgiving of then President George H. W. Bush. Since then, Bush and his successors spared the lives of one or two lucky turkeys each Thanksgiving. Last year, President Barack Obama pardoned Cobbler and Gobbler, both 40-pound turkeys from Rockingham County, Virginia.
This revered tradition is about to change as The White House announced that President Obama is scrapping this year’s Presidential Turkey Pardon due to reports about a shortage of Butterball turkeys. Butterball is the nation’s largest turkey producer. Headquartered in Garner, N.C., Butterball produces 1 billion pounds of turkey every year, equal to 20 percent of the nation’s production. The ubiquitous brand, known for its blue, gold and yellow label, is a mainstay in American kitchens every Thanksgiving.
Butterball said its poultry had trouble gaining weight on some of its farms but did not explain why. The company still has ample supplies of its frozen large varieties, which are birds 16 pounds and heavier. “We experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys,” Stephanie Llorente, a spokeswoman for Butterball, said in a statement Friday. “While we are continuing to evaluate all potential causes, we are working to remedy the issue. We sincerely regret the inconvenience that some of our customers have experienced as a result of this issue.”
In making the surprise announcement, President Obama said he hopes his gesture which he says will surely be frowned upon by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), will help, even in the smallest way, to alleviate the turkey shortage. Obama refused to answer a question from The Adobo Chronicles on whether the Presidential Turkey Pardon will be scrapped for good, or only when there is a turkey shortage.