National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon: Obama Spares "Popcorn"

Popcorn loves Beyonce, while Caramel is a Lady Gaga fan

By Alyana Alfaro
|  Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013  |  Updated 2:29 PM EDT
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    President Barack Obama officially pardoned a pair of turkeys Wednesday, in keeping with a pardoning tradition started in 1963 by John F. Kennedy.

    For the second year in a row, the public was allowed to decide which bird would win the title of America's National Thanksgiving Turkey. This time around, a turkey named "Popcorn" was victorious over "Caramel."

    Obama and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, emerged from the White House around 1:30 p.m. on a blustery day where Popcorn was already waiting for them.

    "The office of the presidency, the most powerful position in the world, brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities. This is not one of them," Obama joked.

    The girls -- with Sasha in a panda-patterned sweater -- smiled as their father noted that they particularly enjoy the annual event.

    "We give thanks for the blessings of freedom and opportunity that previous generations worked so hard to secure for us," Obama told the assembled crowd before officially granting the pardon.

    Obama turned to Popcorn and said the bird had been given a "full reprieve from cranberry sauce."

    "We wish you well," Obama told the turkey.

    Voting ended Tuesday night, but each bird's profile is still on Whitehouse.gov/turkey. Their profiles include recordings of their gobbles, stats about weight and "favorite songs" to help voters choose which bird they think is the most pardon-worthy.

    "When Popcorn is feeling peckish, he can't stop snacking on his namesake, corn, and has been known to strut around to Beyonce's 'Halo'," a statement on the White House blog said.

    As for the alternate: "Caramel is a steady and deliberate bird that enjoys soybean meal and rocking out to Lady Gaga."

    The pair were chosen from among 80 turkeys on a farm outside Badger, Minn. "It was quite literally the Hunger Games," the president said.

    Last year was the first time the American public was given a vote on which of two turkeys would get the honor of an official presidential pardon. People were invited to cast their votes on the White House Facebook page and choose between two birds: Gobbler and Cobbler.

    Cobbler was named the official National Turkey, but both birds were sent to live out their lives at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.

    This year, voters shared their votes on Facebook or used the hashtags #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn on Instagram and Twitter to cast their votes.

    While voters were encouraged to cast their votes, the White House website claims the tradition is "all gravy" and that both turkeys will live out their lives at Morven Park's Turkey Hill in Leesburg, Va.

    Even so, only Popcorn was granted the honor of being the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

    "The competition was stiff, but we can officially declare that Popcorn is the winner, proving that even a turkey with a funny name can find a place in politics," Obama said. "As for Caramel, he's sticking around and he's already busy raising money for his next campaign."

    Obama said that later Wednesday afternoon, he and his family would bring a couple of "less fortunate" turkeys to an organization supplying food for needy families.

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