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Thanksgiving Turkey Traditions at the White House

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Dwight D. Eisenhower


Documents from President Dwight Eisenhower's first term in office indicate that the live turkey he received was then killed, dressed, and frozen. This photograph is from Eisenhower's first Thanksgiving as president, in 1953. During his second term, the turkey tradition changed; the turkey presented to the president was not the same bird that was later eaten in the White House. "In 1960, the files clearly show that a live bird was brought in for a photo op and a separate 'dressed turkey' was left at the White House for the President," according to presidential archives.

Turkey fact: Turkeys are approximately 22 weeks old when they participate in the White House ceremony. There are always two turkeys: one for the ceremony and one as its runner-up.

Photo: gmu.edu

Next: John F. Kennedy

More on: Thanksgiving

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