Official White House turkeys make media debut
November 26th, 2013
01:38 PM ET
1 year ago

Official White House turkeys make media debut

(CNN) - The two stars stood front and center, posing for the cameras in the opulent Crystal Room of Washington's Willard InterContinental hotel. Every movement elicited a flurry of camera flashes from their captivated audience. If they were nervous they didn't let it show. They were there to meet with the media ahead of their visit to the White House, but they took no questions. All they could do was gobble.

That's because the guests of honor at this particular event were two turkeys, Popcorn and Caramel, soon to be named the official and alternate National Thanksgiving Turkeys.

For the 66th consecutive year, the National Turkey Federation (NTF) is presenting the birds to the President and his family as part of a time honored tradition that officially dates back to the Truman administration-although some maintain it may have been started by President Abraham Lincoln.

The lucky birds will receive a presidential pardon at the White House tomorrow, saving them from a grisly fate all-too-common for turkeys this time of year-becoming the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving Day meal.

Instead of being roasted, stuffed and served with a side of mashed potatoes, Popcorn and Caramel will live out the rest of their short lives in a custom-made enclosure at Morven Park in Virginia, after making a Christmas appearance at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate.

The ceremony tomorrow is a special occasion for the Burkel family, who raised the turkeys on their farm in Badger, Minnesota.

John and Joni Burkel were on hand Tuesday for Popcorn and Caramel's media debut, along with their five children, to answer questions on behalf of their feathered friends.

Mr. Burkel described the birds' eclectic taste in music (they listened to everything from Vivaldi to Lady Gaga as part of their socialization process), and their overall temperament. Caramel, it seems, is the more laid-back of the two, while Popcorn "struts a little more."

Only one of the turkeys can be the official National Thanksgiving Turkey, and in true democratic fashion, the White House is leaving that decision to the American people. The public is invited to vote for their favorite on Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtags #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn.

Asked which turkey was most deserving of the honor, John Burkel said diplomatically, "They're both ready," but added that he is partial to Popcorn.

The youngest Burkel children, 10-year-old Jack and 5-year-old Emily took charge of the turkeys during the press conference, corralling them onto their mats and whistling so they'd gobble for the cameras.

The 19-week-old birds weigh about 38 pounds and stand two feet tall.


Filed under: White House
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    This year Obama will probably pardon the GOP domestic terrorists.

    November 26, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Should we expect Tea Partiers, conservative purists, Heritage Foundation, Senators Cruz, Rubio, and Paul to object to a pardon of the turkeys because it is granted by President Obama?

    November 26, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    I'd bet they let almost the news media' entire photo corps in, didn't they? No pool photos of these birds.

    November 26, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. truth hurts but reality bites

    Let me guess... Obama and Care right?!

    November 26, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    Let's hope that Popcorn and Caramel don't mysteriously get killed this time.

    November 26, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. Truthful1

    I believe that Obama is ultimate Turkey being served up on Republican's Platter for the Traditional American Holiday, and with Obama care, and a Host of other Scandals, the GOP has much to celebrate.

    November 26, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. just saying

    the obama adminstration has approved new rules and regulations under obamacare that deal with a wide spread healthcare issue called holiday stomach bloating. as the government now has to subsidize your healthcare, the new rules and regulations restrict the size of your plate to 6" with no refills. butter has banned. gravy has been banned. you can eat all the tofu you wish. please enjoy your thanksgiving. hugs and kisses, your progressive masters.

    November 26, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ ticker participants

    Have a Happy and safe Thanksgiving.

    Sans the politics ... if possible.

    November 26, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Pretty birds. Are those the losers hanging from the ceiling? Oh, sorry, those are chandeliers. Nice place for a
    photo-op. Enjoy life birds.

    November 26, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  10. Silence DoGood

    @just saying
    the obama adminstration has approved new rules and regulations under obamacare that deal with a wide spread healthcare issue called holiday stomach bloating. as the government now has to subsidize your healthcare, the new rules and regulations restrict the size of your plate to 6" with no refills. butter has banned. gravy has been banned. you can eat all the tofu you wish. please enjoy your thanksgiving. hugs and kisses, your progressive masters.
    ---------------–
    after the Tea-party Christian Right take over:
    We have reviewed your holiday plans. We noticed that there will be a marriage we did not approve and those two will be taken into custody. We also picked up a conversation from woman discussing how to plan for her future pregnancies – please tell her to stop this satanic talk. Remember prayers before the meals will contain 3 references to Jesus and all people in attendance must pretend to be the right religion as prescribed by the state. Also note two guests refused to wear their crosses in public claiming to be another religion – blasphemy! – they will not be attending. If you cannot afford to buy food you will simply go hungry, because it must be God's will. Bless you!

    November 26, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    just saying

    the obama adminstration has approved new rules and regulations under obamacare that deal with a wide spread healthcare issue called holiday stomach bloating. as the government now has to subsidize your healthcare, the new rules and regulations restrict the size of your plate to 6" with no refills. butter has banned. gravy has been banned. you can eat all the tofu you wish. please enjoy your thanksgiving. hugs and kisses, your progressive masters.
    --------------------------–
    Is that supposed to be funny? There are people in this country who would be thankful for a plate of tofu. The right wing's compulsive confabulating is on par with compulsive gambling. It's a sickness, a disease. And thanks to the ACA, it should now be covered as the mental illness that it is.

    November 26, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    You just have to laugh at the miserable rightie ba$tards who have got to use every situation as an occaision to spread their miserable message of lies and distortion becase, deep down, they know they are empty people with nothing to offer. They have doomed themselves to extinction by their very philosophy. I can't wait to show my grandchildren the permanant exhibit the Smithsonian will have featuring just saying, stuffit and Donna in their Lazy Boys, scowling at Sean Hannity's insincere smirk as he tells them what to think: " Yes kids, believe it or not, people used to think that not giving a rat's a** about others was actually a good thing." Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone, and gnaw on a turkey leg in front of a rightie: the confusion on their faces will make every bite even more enjoyable..

    November 26, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Gunderson

    Well,
    . Real Turkey still coming. Called Obama Care.

    November 26, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |