Known today as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation, the traditional presidential pardon started, unofficially, with President Truman in 1947. According to scholars, there’s no record of him actually pardoning any turkeys. In fact, he admitted to eating some of them.
Today, the turkey is typically a Broad-Breasted White domestic turkey, given to the president by the National Turkey Federation.
In 1963, President Kennedy offered his turkey amnesty (but did not actually say “pardon”), even though it had a sign reading “Good Eating, Mr. President” draped across its neck. Four days later he was assassinated.