MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — On Monday, Governor Kay Ivey pardoned two turkeys, Giblet and Puddin’, on the 75th anniversary of a long-standing Alabama – and American – tradition.
The fortunate fowl will avoid the Thanksgiving table thanks to a social media poll, which allowed users to determine the fate of two lucky birds.
The pair beat out Cluck and Dolly, Rosemary and Sage and Butterball and Maple. Giblet and Puddin’ will return to Bates Turkey Farm in Fort Deposit. The annual event took place at the Governor’s Mansion and featured song performances from Hoover’s Riverchase Day School and Montgomery Christian School students.
But how did this tradition begin?
According to the Associated Press (2004), the ritual of pardoning a turkey began in 1949 when the first Alabama turkey was pardoned by Gov. James “Big Jim” Folsom. His actions preceded a national tradition some believe started when Abraham Lincoln pardoned a Christmas turkey his son had grown fond of.
However, Folsom was ahead of his time, as the first president to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey was President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and was formalized in 1989 under President George H.W. Bush.
As of 2004, every turkey brought to an Alabama governor by Bill Bates, a turkey grower in Greeneville, had been named Clyde, according to the AP.
“Jim Folsom tried to kill that first one we brought. He got loose and flew all over the office,” Bates told the AP (2004).
Sadly, not every Alabama Clyde was as fortunate as its predecessor. The 2003 Clyde was killed in Hurricane Ivan just a few months prior to 2004 Clyde’s nomination.
In 2005, Clyde was pardoned by Gov. Bob Riley. The following year, an exposé was written in the Birmingham News (2006) detailing his horrific ending.
Following his pardon, 2005 Clyde was taken to the Alabama Farmers Market in Montgomery, where Bates thought it would be good to have him on display for educational purposes. That is, until PETA found out.
At PETA’s behest, 2005 Clyde was returned to Bates Turkey Farm, according to the Birmingham News, which detailed his experience as such:
“Clyde wasn’t concerned. He was armed with a pardon from the governor that declared that never would such a fate befall him. Contrary to Saturday morning cartoons, coyotes can’t read. Not even pardons … To make a long story short, the coyote had a Thanksgiving dinner without all of the trimmings.”
It wasn’t until 2022 that the pardoned turkeys were no longer named Clyde, but instead were given names voted on by the people, perhaps breaking the generational curse.