Pardon me! The turkeys who won a presidential reprieve (PHOTOS)

Updated
Vice President Richard Nixon "shakes hands" with a 40-pound white turkey on November 14, 1955, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The big bird was not...
Vice President Richard Nixon "shakes hands" with a 40-pound white turkey on November 14, 1955, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The big bird was not...
AP Photo/William J. Smith

Presidential turkey pardonings have been an annual American tradition since 1963, when President John F. Kennedy decided to send the National Turkey Federation’s feathered gift back to the farm.

On Wednesday, President Obama will have yet another chance to set a turkey free. But for the first time, the American public will vote via Facebook for the bird they want spared.

It’s a tough choice: The turkeys look strikingly similar, and are named Gobbler and Cobbler.

At a pre-pardon press conference on Tuesday, National Turkey Federation Chairman Steve Willardsen introduced this year’s special fowls to the public. Cobbler and Gobbler were born on the same day on a farm in Rockingham County, Virginia, and were raised by proud owners Craig and Nancy Miller. The White House says Cobbler is “known for his strut” and enjoys the musical stylings of Carly Simon, while Gobbler, “a patient but proud bird,” prefers a tune with a fiddle.

The two are currently enjoying their stay at the W Hotel in Washington, DC. The hotel manager says the experience has been very exciting for the hotel and his employees (especially the cleaning staff), NBC News reported.

After what’s called the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation on Wednesday afternoon, both turkeys will reside at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. (Though only one turkey is technically pardoned, the other is kept as a spare.)

Some find the entire tradition a bit strange. But cruel? Where PETA’s concerned, that’s a resounding yes.

USA Today reports:

The animal rights group PETA is calling on Obama to cancel the turkey pardoning, calling it a “sorely outdated event” that “makes light of the mass slaughter of some 46 million gentle, intelligent birds and portrays the United States’ president as being in some sort of business partnership with the turkey-killing industry.”


In its letter to President Obama, PETA suggested he select a “delicious, healthy Tofurky roast” instead.

Though there is some debate as to which president was officially the first to pardon a turkey, one thing’s remained consistent through the years: These birds have made for priceless photo-ops. Here are a few of our favorites:

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Pardon me! The turkeys who won a presidential reprieve (PHOTOS)

Updated