President Obama Pardons Turkeys "Mac" & "Cheese," Just Don't Tell Them What Happened To "Popcorn"

As per Thanksgiving tradition, two turkeys can breathe a little easier thanks to President Obama's generosity. "Mac," and "Cheese" the turkeys were pardoned by the president on Wednesday, meaning they won't be served up with gravy and cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving or any Thanksgiving thereafter. Though Cheese was named the National Thanksgiving Turkey, both turkeys will be spending the rest of their little turkey lives on a Virginia estate, where they will have 10,000 acres of prime real estate to call their own.

One of last year's turkeys, Popcorn, died in July from over-heating, but I won't tell them if you don't.

Obama joked with the crowd:

I am here to do what I am sure will be the most talked about executive action so far. (...) I will be pardoning two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate.

The two turkeys were put up to an online vote, which Cheese won with flying colors. Luckily for Mac, it is also traditional for the president to pardon an alternate.

Obama said:

If you're a turkey and you're named after a side dish, your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are low.

The president, who was accompanied by his two daughters Sasha and Malia, said he and his family would be heading over to a food pantry later on Wednesday to donate two turkeys, which he has done for the past six years of his presidency.

Among his plethora of dad jokes, including trying to get his daughters to touch the turkey (they declined, smart cookies), Obama explicitly referenced a Washington Post article, which questioned the merits of continuing to pardon turkeys when there are tons of more important things on his agenda. Journalist Tim Carman had written:

Typically on the day before Thanksgiving, the man who makes decisions about wars, virus outbreaks, terrorism cells and other dire matters of state chooses to pardon a single turkey (plus an alternate, which presumably takes the place of the officially pardoned should he or she not be able to fulfill the duties).

In response, Obama said:

I enjoy it, because with all the tough stuff that swirls around in this office it's nice once in a while just to say Happy Thanksgiving.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

According to The White House Historical Association, the ceremony dates back to 1865, when President Lincoln's clemency to a turkey was noted by White House reporter Noah Brooks. Since then, it has been an uninterrupted tradition.

Images: Getty Images (1)