Every year, the White House chooses a turkey to pardon for Thanksgiving, a tradition that's deemed whimsical by some and loathed by others. (The rest of America's turkeys aren't pardoned, after all!) This year's pardoning ceremony faced new criticism, however, when a White House poll asked which turkey should be pardoned. You see, the turkeys chosen for the ceremony were named Drumstick and Wishbone, and the people of Twitter were quick to point out that one name implies darker meat than the other.
Wishbone and Drumstick arrived at the White House on Sunday, ahead of the ceremony scheduled for Tuesday. The White House's social media accounts showed the turkeys staying in a luxurious hotel room at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in D.C.
While one bird is ultimately chosen for the photo op, both are spared from becoming a Thanksgiving feast, and Wishbone and Drumstick will join last year's turkeys (Tater and Tot) at Virginia Tech's "Gobblers Rest" exhibit after their lives are saved. According to a White House press release, students and veterinarians will care for them as part of an exhibit encouraging the public to learn about the university's programs in animal sciences and veterinary medicine.
Nevertheless, the White House posted a poll on Twitter asking people to weigh in on which bird should be featured in the Rose Garden ceremony on Tuesday, laying out the two options: Drumstick or Wishbone. As tends to happen on Twitter, the replies got pretty heated.
Along with speculation that President Trump wouldn't pardon the bird named after dark meat, others cracked jokes about who Trump would really pardon. (Trump critics can always find a way to bring up the Russia investigation.)
It didn't take long for people to turn the tables on Trump, either, saying he was the turkey that needed pardoning.
Along with the poll, which didn't exactly foster the holiday spirit, the White House also posted bios of Wishbone and Drumstick to Twitter.
Apparently, Wishbone loves country music (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, to be exact) and walks with a strong shuffle. Wishbone was born on June 28 and weighs 36 pounds.
Drumstick was born on the same day, but struts tall and proud, weighs in at 47 pounds, and enjoys classic rock bands such as Journey.
Both were raised in Western Minnesota by the National Turkey Federation (which donates turkeys annually for the ceremony). The organization was also responsible for bird proofing the Willard InterContinental Hotel ahead of Wishbone and Drumstick's stay, fencing them in with folding chairs and sprinkling pine shavings on the floor. The National Turkey Federation — not the White House — pays for their glamorous hotel stay, according to the Washington Examiner.
Tuesday's event will be the 70th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, and the White House's statement said President Trump will reflect "on our nation's rich Thanksgiving traditions." But although it's been a tradition for decades, it wasn't until 1989 that the word "pardon" was used for the event. Before George H.W. Bush's presidency, the donated turkeys were usually sent to a farm for the rest of their lives, but President Truman quipped that his would "come in handy" for dinner.
"Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table, not this guy — he's granted a presidential pardon as of right now," Bush said as animal rights activists protested nearby.
The annual event has always been a little contentious, and the White House's Twitter poll proved that's still the case. Come Tuesday, the nation will know whether Drumstick or Wishbone was chosen for the official presidential pardon — and whether or not the choice reflects the poll's results.