WASHINGTON – As Americans prepare to gather for Thanksgiving, President Joe Biden ensured two ingredients won’t make it onto dinner plates Thursday: Chocolate and Chip.
On Monday morning, Biden pardoned the nation’s Thanksgiving turkeys he named Chocolate – after his favorite ice cream – and Chip, to match.
“I could have named them Chips and Science, but anyways ,” Biden joked, referencing the Chips and Science Act he signed into law in August.
Those names would have been appropriate for the birds since they’ll retire from serving in the nation’s capital this week to Raleigh where they’ll live out their lives at North Carolina State University.
But first, they needed to stand before a crowd and proved they deserved a presidential pardoning. Temperatures during the ceremony remained in the 30s, so Biden promised the audience he’d keep his remarks short.
“Nobody likes their turkey to get cold,” Biden said.
Chocolate and Chip hail from North Carolina, both raised at Circle S Ranch in Monroe by National Turkey Federation chairman Ronnie Parker.
Biden told the crowd gathered on the South Lawn of the White House that Chocolate weighs 46 pounds and loves sunning on the Outer Banks.
Chip, he said, weighs 47 pounds and loves barbecue and basketball. Andrew Bates, Biden’s deputy press secretary raised in North Carolina, tweeted to McClatchy that a source close to Chip says he prefers Lexington-style barbecue.
Gov. Roy Cooper, his wife Kristin, and Rep. Dan Bishop, whose district includes Monroe, were in the crowd of onlookers watching the pardoning. The Coopers planned to travel back to North Carolina with the Bidens on Monday night for a Friendsgiving dinner with the troops at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
The birds would travel from the White House to North Carolina State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
North Carolina State is home to one of only six poultry departments in the country. Both birds will be housed in 100-square-foot, climate-controlled pens and brought to events like the State Fair and the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Farm Animal Days for public viewing and educational opportunities.
NCSU said in a news release that agriculture is the state’s top industry and generates $90 billion each year. The news release stated that the poultry industry accounts for nearly 150,000 jobs at more than 5,000 farms in North Carolina and makes North Carolina second for turkey production and first in total poultry production across the country.
“When we told them they were joining the Wolfpack they got a little scared,” Biden said.
Above the turkeys, Biden’s German shepherd, Commander, stood on the Truman balcony next to Biden’s grandson, Beau, and barked down at the turkeys for added effect.
“We explained it was just the mascot at the school of one of the nation’s best poultry science departments in the country,” Biden said. “And now based on their temperament and commitment to be productive members of society, I hereby pardon Chocolate and Chip.”
Chocolate let out a warble at the announcement.
“That’s a big bird, man,” Biden said with a laugh, as he watched Chocolate be lifted onto the stage.
Monday marked the 75th turkey pardoning in the country’s history. Though the ceremony is known for being silly and full of dad jokes (Biden said the only “red wave” this year would be from Commander knocking over cranberry sauce) it is meant to remind Americans of the traditions the holiday holds and why we come together.
“We can’t forget the reasoning for Thanksgiving in the first place,” Biden said. “The Pilgrims thought it was pretty important in tough times to come together and thank God and be grateful for what we have. That’s what the Thanksgiving tradition is all about: being grateful for what we have and grateful for fellow Americans we’ve never met.”
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