Presidential Turkeys, Awaiting Pardon, Live Luxuriously

Drumstick and Wishbone have been trained to strut their stuff.

By Ethan L. Johns
November 21, 2017

Image: Hannah MacInnis via AP

When the president again uses his pardon power on Tuesday, it should be largely devoid of controversy. After all, the only crime that has been committed here is fowl play.

Thanksgiving is mere days away and, as tradition holds, the president of the United States will pardon a turkey of its crimes, liberating it from the determinedly deadly duty of acting as dinner for the first family. This year’s turkeys, imaginatively named Drumstick and Wishbone, were raised in Minnesota by Carl Wittenburg, the chairman of the National Turkey Federation.

But there’s quite a bit that has to happen before those big birds make it to the White House. Take etiquette lessons, for example. The prehistoric-looking creatures need to sit still on the table during the ceremony, so the handlers bribe them with grub worms. Good boys! Birds raised for eating won’t go far, but wild turkeys actually do fly.

Ideally, the turkeys will be strutting their stuff for the cameras. Strutting, meaning fanning out those tail feathers like a Wall Street bro at bonus time. Looks like Drumstick and Wishbone are the Goldman Sachs of Thanksgiving poultry.

To round out the preparation leading up to the ceremony, the birds got to await their pardons in the lap of luxury. On Monday night, the two winged monsters got their very own beds at the Willard InterContinental luxury hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Their relaxing evening, which was most likely spent watching the hotel’s pay-per-view channel, should keep them on their best behavior for the ceremony, which begins at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Then again, we can’t really predict what they will do in front of the crowd. Turkeys are known to be easily distracted; they love shiny things and tend to chirp and tweet whenever the urge strikes.

Sorry, I meant gobble.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns