MNN Galleries

Free bird: Thanksgiving turkey pardons

By: Russell McLendon on Nov. 15, 2018, 5:02 p.m.
President Ronald Reagan only joked about pardoning turkeys.

Photo: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons

6 of 15

Not talking turkey

Ronald Reagan was the first president to use the word "pardon" when discussing the fate of his holiday poultry, but it wasn't during any photo-op festivities. While deflecting questions from reporters in 1987 about whether he would pardon U.S. officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, Reagan said that if that year's Thanksgiving turkey wasn't already bound for a petting zoo, "I would have pardoned him."