CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Down a winding gravel road, past the knotted oak trees and a small but mighty herd of cattle, sits a long red-roofed barn, the permanent home to North Carolina’s newest Thanksgiving celebrities.

Chocolate and Chip, the two North Carolina-raised turkeys pardoned by President Joe Biden this week, landed Wednesday at their forever home at N.C. State’s Talley Turkey Education Unit.

After escaping the annual holiday slaughter, the “wingmates” will live out their days under the care of students and staff at N.C. State’s School of Agricultural Sciences.

Peter Ferket, interim head of the department of poultry sciences, said he is thrilled to bring attention to North Carolina this Thanksgiving season. The turkeys were both raised in Monroe by National Turkey Federation chairman Ronnie Parker at Circle S Ranch.

In addition to Chocolate and Chip, North Carolina is also part of the official Washington, D.C., Christmas festivities. A Christmas tree from North Carolina was welcomed at the U.S. Capitol last week before a preholiday visit to Cherry Point by the president and first lady.

“North Carolina really deserves to get a national limelight,” Ferket said with a smile.


At the White House pardoning ceremony Monday, Biden told the crowd that Chocolate weighs 46 pounds and Chip weighs 47 pounds.

While the two turkeys are comparable in weight, Chocolate’s plethora of feathers looms large across the pen, while Chip has subtler plumage.

Like Chip’s name suggests, he has a single triangular brown feather peaking out on his chest, resembling a chocolate chip.

Both Chocolate and Chip are male, but in situations where two males are living in close proximity to each other, one becomes the dominant, alpha-like figure. For this duo, Chocolate is the dominant figure, causing him to naturally puff up proudly.

Chocolate also showed that he was not afraid of the cameras from the media attending the celebration to welcome him and Chip back to the state. Hungry for attention, he strode around his pen, eager to show off his tail feathers, while Chip hovered nearby, peckish for the occasional close up.

Whenever Chocolate felt Chip was getting too much attention, he was sure to let photographers know, gobbling until all eyes were on him.


The feathered and fidgety duo settled into their new pens, their vibrant red wattles jiggling with every step, a stark contrast to their icy pale faces.

Flies buzzed about the room, but were often drowned out by the sound of humans’ protective plastic bootees crinkling with every step, a safety measure employed by the university for the health of the birds.

“Why N.C. State?” Agricultural Sciences School Dean John Dole asked the crowd.

Simply put, Dole said, N.C. State has an extensive and reputable agriculture program. Across agriculture disciplines, Dole boasted that N.C. State employs more than 2,000 people and has “comprehensive programs in turkeys, chickens and eggs.”

“We’re excited about this opportunity as a way to educate students,” Dole said.

NC State is also an appropriate home for the flightless pair because the university generates one-third of all poultry students in the United States, Dole said.


As a result of the high levels of training, Dole said these turkeys will be living a life of luxury for their remaining days.

Both turkeys will live in an indoor pen filled with sawdust, feed and water, and are tended to by staff everyday.

Parker, the owner of Circle S Ranch who raised Chocolate and Chip from their earliest days, said he was honored to be invited to the White House for the annual event.

For the past six weeks, Parker has been training the turkeys to sit calmly on a table, preparing them for the presidential pardoning ceremony.

“The turkeys behaved very well,” Parker said.

When Chocolate nested into place on the pardoning table, Parked said the bird was “as happy as he could be.”

Content in their new home, Chocolate and Chip will live out their lives helping to teach the next generation of poultry farmers at N.C. State.

“This is the farm of the future,” Dole said. “Chocolate and Chip will come here and help educate our students on the importance of agriculture.

“They certainly are great ambassadors for our university.”