Tuesday, November 20, 2012

White House Launches Contest To Choose Turkey For Obama Pardon: 'Thanksgiving Decision 2012'

Americans can vote on the White House Facebook page for their favorite turkey, Cobbler or Gobbler...
UPDATE:  Cobbler wins; both birds are pardoned
In a contemporary twist on the annual presidential turkey pardoning tradition, the White House on Tuesday announced "Thanksgiving Decision 2012," a social media contest that offers Americans the chance to vote to select the National Thanksgiving Turkey to whom President Obama will grant clemency on Wednesday during the National Thanksgiving Presentation ceremony in the Rose Garden.  The voting is a first-time event for the White House, which is asking the public to choose either Gobbler or Cobbler on the White House Facebook page. (Above, a White House graphic for the contest)

"This year, for the first time ever, the American public will get its say," the White House said in an email and a blog post about the contest.  "People all across the country are flocking to cast their vote."

The two contending Toms, now giant white 19-week-old snowballs who weigh more than 40 pounds each, were born on July 13, and raised in the Presidential Flock at Miller Farm in Rockingham County, Virginia, which is part of the massive turkey operation in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley owned by Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, Inc.  Read all about the turkeys here.

Americans can rest assured there will be no hanging chads with the Facebook vote, where users are asked to click on a graphic link of the bird they "Like" best, and then "share" the link.  On Twitter, the White House is pitching the campaign on the @WhiteHouse account as a wattle-off between #TeamGobbler and #TeamCobbler.  (Above:  The Facebook graphic for Gobbler) 

2012 is the 65th anniversary of the turkey presentation from the National Turkey Federation, though the annual tradition of Presidential pardoning didn't start until 1989 with President George H. W. Bush.  The first Eater in Chief to grant an actual pardon was President John F. Kennedy in 1963, according to the White House.

"Cobbler and Gobbler may look alike, but they're no birds of a feather," reads the White House post and email.

"Cobbler craves cranberries, is known for his strut, and enjoys the musical stylings of Carly Simon. Gobbler, a patient but proud bird, loves to nibble on corn and enjoys any music with a fiddle."

The two Toms met the media for the first time on Tuesday during a press conference hosted by the National Turkey Federation in the rooftop lounge at the W Washington, DC hotel.

The Toms are staying at the lavish hotel with the Miller family, husband and wife farmers Craig and Nancy Miller and their children Kelsey and Chase.  Cargill president Steve Willardsen, board chair of the Federation, is also at the hotel, with Cargill veterinarian Bob Evans, who is monitoring the birds.  Willardsen will present the winning Tom to President Obama.  (Above:  Gobbler, left, and Cobbler)

The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation will be livestreamed at wh.gov/live at 2:00 PM ET on Wednesday, and America will find out if Cobbler or Gobbler has been victorious.

Though there is only one National Thanksgiving Turkey, both birds will spend the rest of their days at the nationally recognized livestock facility at Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, the glorious, historically preserved farm/estate of the first American President, George Washington.  It's located in Virginia, about a half hour from the White House.  The Toms will be featured in the Christmas at Mount Vernon program through January 6, 2013.

*Related:  Click here for the 2012 Obama White House Thanksgiving menu and recipes

*Photo of Gobbler and Cobbler by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama