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In 2009, Obama pardoned his first turkey, named Courage. We first got our taste of Obama's dad jokes when he remarked that Bo, their new dog, might get lose and ruin the whole pardon. He also commented on Courage's "haircut" and asked the audience if there was an official pardoning gesture (he went with a hand wave).
In 2010, Apple was the lucky turkey up for pardoning. Even Obama couldn't keep his face straight as he explained that Apple and his understudy, Cider, were chosen through a poultry version of Dancing with the Stars. No less than 25 turkeys had to "strut their stuff" before a panel of judges at the turkey farm in California. The prize, Obama explained, was "life," as well as a trip to D.C.and a stay at the W Hotel.
This year, neither Obama daughter bites when Obama asks if they want to pet the turkey.
In 2011, Obama's turkey pardon jokes got outwardly political as he mocked his own love of executive orders as well as the press's ability to "gobble without really saying anything." This year's turkeys, Peace and Liberty, were actually raised by high school students who, Obama revealed, were prepped for their media attention by being exposed to loud noises and flashing lights.
After the pardoning, both Peace and Liberty retired, like George Washington, to Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Only recently reelected a few weeks before, in 2012 Obama pardoned two turkeys who also were at the mercy of public opinion. Cobbler and Gobbler were the first-ever White House turkeys to be chosen by popular vote. Obama joked that, just like with the national election, "Nate Silver completely nailed it," predicting the winners. And now, like Obama's administration, "these birds are moving forward."
Cobbler, the turkey that made it onto TV, turned out to be a very vocal White House guest, gobbling throughout the press conference and his own pardoning.
In 2013, Obama told assembled press and guests that the office of the president comes with "many awesome and solemn responsibilities," but the turkey pardoning "is not one of them." But even as he poked fun at the tradition, he went all in for that year's routine, creating a very elaborate Hunger Games-related joke, declaring Caramel and Popcorn to be the two tributes who won. (This earned an eye-roll and audible laugh from Malia.)