National Thanksgiving turkeys get White House pardon

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participated in the annual turkey pardon in the White House Rose Garden Monday.

The National Thanksgiving Turkeys, Bread and Butter, weighing in at 45 and 47 pounds, respectively, were plucked from a flock raised by Butterball turkey farmer Wellie Jackson. The turkeys rode the gravy train to the White House from Clinton, North Carolina, over the weekend.

Bread and Butter overnighted at the luxe Willard Intercontinental Hotel upon their arrival in the nation's capital and held a news conference Monday ahead of their trip to the White House.

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Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway told reporters in the briefing room earlier Monday that she expected the President to pardon both turkeys, as is custom. Bread and Butter will avoid the fate of more than 46 million of their turkey brethren expected to be consumed across the country this Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation.

Bread and Butter will retire to Gobbler's Rest at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Rumors of turkey pardons go back in presidential history as far as the Lincoln administration. Folklore has it that Lincoln's young son asked his father to spare a pet turkey that was supposed to be part of their Thanksgiving dinner.

The National Turkey Federation became the official turkey supplier to the first family in 1947 and the formal turkey presentation ceremony has been around since President Harry Truman. Truman was the first to accept a turkey from them -- however, he did not spare the bird.

The first documented turkey pardon was given by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, though it didn't catch on right away. Even though President Gerald Ford pardoned President Richard Nixon, neither one of them decided to officially pardon any turkeys.

Turkey pardoning became the norm in the White House in 1989 when President George H.W. Bush revived the tradition, now a staple of the White House holiday season.

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