Food News

White House Turkeys: Are You Team Caramel or Team Popcorn?

On Wednesday, November 27th, President Obama will do his annual most solemn duty as leader of the free world.

No, he won't bring the troops home or cut taxes. He'll announce the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

Although stories have come out regarding the short life-span of these pardoned turkeys, think of it this way -- would you rather spend the last six months of your life on a farm, eating corn and basking in the sun...or would you rather be killed and eaten? 'Nuff said.

This tradition, by the way, has been going on for decades...even a century, depending on what stories are true.

See also: Thanksgiving Horror Stories: Pig Abuse, Dead Presidentially Pardoned Turkeys

The stories date back to Lincoln's tenure at the White House, where legend has it that the President's son, Tad, begged his father to pardon the turkey meant for the family's Christmas dinner, saying it had as much a right to live as anyone. Lincoln spared that turkey.

The modern day turkey-saving probably stems from President Kennedy sending a turkey back to the farm alive, saying "we'll just let this one grow". Shortly after, the lucky birds who made it to the White House each holiday were sent to a petting farm near Washington after a photo op, although no formal pardon was yet given.

According to the White House, President George H.W. Bush was the first to actually offer a pardon. On November 14, 1989, he pardoned the bird and sent it to a park in Virginia.

So, tomorrow, the tradition continues with the official pardon of Caramel and Popcorn, two turkeys hatched on July 8, 2013 at a farm near Badger, Minnesota. The two birds may have been raised together from eggs, but they couldn't be more different.

According to their official dossiers, Caramel is a "steady and deliberate" bird that enjoys soybean meal and rocking out to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. Caramel is tall and thin, and his gobble is described as "quick, clean, and frequent".

Popcorn, however, is addicted to corn and loves Beyonce's Halo. He's a stout bird with a "proud strut" and his gobble is described as "garbled with long notes".

It might be important to note that the political affiliation of the turkeys was not mentioned.

Although both turkeys will be saved from the dinner table, only one gets the official pardon and a meet and greet with the President.

The winning poultry will be decided the same way the President is decided: With millions of dollars of ad campaigns, political strategists, costly televised debates, and political polls a simple vote.

To vote on Twitter, just tweet using hashtags #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn. Facebook users can "like" and share their favorite bird -- Caramel or Popcorn. You can also vote via Instagram by regramming your favorite turkey using #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn.

The deadline for voting is 8 p.m. tonight, November 26. The official pardon goes down tomorrow, November 27 at 1:15 p.m. and can be watched at

After the ceremonies, both turkeys will travel to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens where they will be on display during "Christmas at Mount Vernon." The turkeys will then travel to their permanent home at Morven Park's Turkey Hill, the historic farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmorland Davis in Leesburg, Virginia. And, even though their lives will probably be short, at least they'll have some good days in the sunshine.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss