President Joe Biden pardoned the official Thanksgiving turkeys on Monday — and in the process made a series of “Dad” jokes at the expense of Republicans for falling well short of expectations in the midterm elections.
“The votes are in. They’ve been counted and verified. There’s been no ballot stuffing, there’s been no fowl play,” Biden punned at the White House as he granted presidential reprieves to the turkeys, named Chocolate and Chip.
“The only red wave this season will be if our German shepherd Commander knocks over the cranberry sauce at our table,” the Democratic president quipped.
Chocolate and Chip are guaranteed not to be eaten this holiday season due to what have become traditional annual presidential pardons for would-be Thanksgiving main courses.
The birds will live out their days back in their home state, at the University of North Carolina.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as he pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey, in the annual ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 21, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper attended the pardon ceremony, along with Brookland Middle School students, members of the National Turkey Federation, and agricultural stakeholders.
Biden’s dog Commander looked on from the White House balcony and barked periodically during the event, where Chip was uninterested in joining Chocolate on the table and trotted behind Biden as the president spoke. Underscoring the comic nature of the proceedings, a version of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic rock anthem “Free Bird” was played.
The tradition of officially receiving a Thanksgiving turkey dates to President Harry Truman in 1947.
But presidents have been gifted turkeys since the 1870s, according to the White House Historical Association.
President George H. W. Bush is credited with dispensing the first official executive clemency for a turkey when he joked to animal rights activists in 1989 that the bird that year was getting a “presidential pardon.”
While presidents from Bush onward have used the pardon event as an excuse to make cringe-inducing jokes, many Americans may be blanching at the rising cost of turkeys — and the rest of the meal fixings — this Thanksgiving season.
Hunter Biden and his son Beau Biden attend the annual ceremony to pardon Chocolate and Chip, the National Thanksgiving Turkeys on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, U.S., November 21, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
Thanksgiving dinner in 2022 is expected to cost 20% more than last year for the average American family as a result of inflation, according to data from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The group’s annual survey found the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner for 10 is $64.05, compared to $53.31 in 2021.
The price of a 16-pound turkey on average this year is $28.96, or $5 more than in 2021 — a 21% increase. In 2020, a turkey cost $9.57 less than in 2022, on average.
The Farm Bureau Federation’s survey found that the biggest price hike was for stuffing mix: a 14-ounce bag of stuffing this year costs $3.88 on average, up a whopping 69% from a year ago.
The two national Thanksgiving turkeys, Chocolate and Chip, are photographed on the South Lawn of the White House before a pardon ceremony in Washington, DC, on November 21, 2022.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images