The history of turkey pardons and – for unpardoned turkeys – what to do with leftovers

This year marks the 75th anniversary of bringing turkeys to the White House. The birds are presented by the National Turkey Federation.

President Joe Biden was presented with two turkeys at the White House on Monday. Named Chocolate and Chip, the Thanksgiving birds received the presidential pardon.

The occasion marked the 75th anniversary of bringing Thanksgiving turkeys to the White House. 

According to National Turkey Federation vice president of communications Beth Breeding, the tradition dates back to 1947 under President Harry S. Truman; however, turkey pardons only began under President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

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Where do the turkeys come from?

The turkeys come from the National Turkey Federation. According to National Turkey Federation vice president of communications Beth Breeding, the federation’s chairman raises the birds and then presents them to the Commander-in-Chief at the White House.

This year, the turkeys came from chairman Ronnie Parker from Monroe, North Carolina.

"He's been in the turkey industry for 44 years, raised the presidential flock and picked Chocolate and Chip to ultimately come to the White House and meet President Biden and receive their very special and very unique pardon," Breeding said.

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What do you do with leftover turkey?

On the flipside, many other turkeys will be finding themselves on dinner plates this Thanksgiving and for a few meals after the holiday.

Breeding recommends using turkey leftovers in meals, such as Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches and pot pies, but also encourages people to explore non-traditional options, such as turkey egg rolls and turkey pasta.

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For foodies who might be a little turkey-d out, Breeding pointed out an easy way to put the turkey feast on pause.

"You can also freeze it to save for later, if you're tired of turkey right now and want to pick it back up in a few weeks," she said.

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