“It feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November,” said President Barack Obama Wednesday in the Rose Garden, as he granted a presidential pardon to “Apple,” the 21-week-old 45-pound national turkey, and his gobbler understudy “Cider.”

The audience, which included quite a few children, laughed as Obama poked fun at the annual national tradition. With “trusty assistants” Malia and Sasha Obama at his side, the president declared he would uphold his duty “as the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth” to save the chosen turkeys this Thanksgiving.

 appletheturkey-internal.jpgApple and Cider, presented by Yubert Envia, chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and Ira Brister, of Foster Farms Wellsford Ranch in California, really beat the odds to earn their clemency. Out of 20,000 birds born at Foster Farms, these two gobblers were picked out of 25 finalists after strutting their stuff to an “eclectic mix” of music.

“It’s kind of like a turkey version of “Dancing With the Stars” … Except the stakes for the contestants was much higher,” said Obama, to laughter. “Only one pair would survive and win the big prize: life.”

President Obama gave a few remarks about the meaning of Thanksgiving before officially granting the birds their pardons. Obama emphasized the importance of being thankful for what we have, generous to those in need, and compassionate towards those we’ve never met.

“It’s a tradition that’s brought us together as a community since before we were a nation, when the ground we’re standing on was nothing but wilderness,” said Obama. “In America, we come together when times are hard.  We don’t give up.  We don’t complain.  And we don’t turn our backs on one another.  Instead, we look out for another and we pitch in and we give what we can.  And in the process, we reveal to the world what we love so much about this country.”

Obama expressed gratitude to the men and women serving “bravely and selflessly” abroad. “You and your families are in our thoughts and in our prayers, and you make me so very proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.”

Then, the moment everyone was waiting for came. “It is my great honor, as well, to give Apple and Cider a new lease on life,” said Obama.

“[A]s President of the United States, you are hereby pardoned from the Thanksgiving dinner table,” proclaimed Obama with a big, and slightly sarcastic, smile. “May you have a wonderful and joyful life at Mount Vernon.”

President Obama seemed to enjoy petting Apple the turkey. Malia and Sasha declined the offer. “You wanna touch him?” the president asked his daughters. “Not really?”

“Have a good life, man!” added Obama, as he and the girls headed back to the Oval Office. Apple and Cider will spend their retirement at Mount Vernon, right where President George Washington spent his.