Two turkeys made the final cut Friday, meaning they will be nowhere near a carving knife come Thanksgiving.
Foster Farms chose the birds that it will take next week to Washington, D.C., where a pardon from President Barack Obama awaits.
One will be chosen for the pardon just before the Wednesday morning ceremony. The other will go as an alternate, ready to step in if need be.
Friday, Yubert Envia, chairman of the National Turkey Federation and Foster Farms colleague Ira Brister chose the two turkeys from a flock of 18 toms that has been raised since July on a company ranch east of Modesto.
They had a demeanor as serious as a dog show judge’s as they looked over the 40-pound turkeys in a small barn.
Candidates had an edge if they were good-looking and seemed able to tolerate airline travel and other handling. Being able to sit still on a table, such as the one to be used in the Rose Garden ceremony, also mattered.
“They had the best plumage,” Envia said of the chosen pair. “They had the nicest tail feathers. They walked and strutted pretty well. And the table manners — they sat on the table pretty well.”
The White House will choose names for the two turkeys from suggestions offered in an online contest that drew more than 200 entries.
After the ceremony, they will live out their lives at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Va.
The industry group has presented turkeys to presidents since Harry Truman in 1947. President George H.W. Bush started the pardon tradition in 1989.
(The turkeys not selected Friday could get another kind of reprieve. Envia said the company has been contacted by a zoo and school agriculture programs interested in adopting them.)