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Boo-reaucrats: 8 Presidential Families—And Pets!—Dressed Up for Halloween

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Politicians have to dress the part. Before public appearances, they meet with image consultants to ensure that they're wearing the perfect power tie and accessorizing with American flag memorabilia that's noticeable without being ostentatious. But what might impress the average American even more than a tailored suit? An awesome Halloween costume. Hollywood celebrities aren't the only famous people who get dressed up on October 31. Sometimes politicians don wigs, makeup, and weird clothes to get their Frankenstein on. We bet they're pretty good at campaigning for candy, too. Plus, check out the festive pets that rub elbows—err, paws—with some very powerful political figures.

1. B-Arrrr-ack Obama

Long before the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), President Barack Obama was an old-school pirate. Lots of Halloween costumes are scary, but yes we can also appreciate one that's just plain adorable.

2. Halloween Obama-Rama

First Lady Michelle Obama changed into leopard spots at a 2009 Alice in Wonderland-themed Halloween event for the children of White House staff members and military families. Sasha wore a red gown, while big sister Malia cleverly dressed up as the Morton salt girl. Meanwhile, President Obama could've been anyone's dad in a sweater and oxford shirt.

3. Mr. and Mrs. President as Mr. and Mrs. President

Photo Courtesy of Our Presidents.

Bill and Hillary are an easy go-to couples costume—you can find vinyl masks of both of them at most Halloween stores. But the power couple channeled another president and first lady at the White House Halloween party in 1993. If you thought the Clinton White House was exciting, consider what fourth president James Madison and his wife Dolley went through. During the War of 1812 (which actually lasted from 1812-1815), the British invaded Washington and set fire to various government buildings, including the White House, United States Treasury, and U.S. Capitol. Fortunately, Dolley rescued original drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution from the blaze.

4. Al Gore's Fuzzy Mask


Should we blame it on global warming ... or the full moon? Former Vice-President Al Gore and then-wife Tipper were dressed to the canines at their 1997 Halloween party. But with a last name like Gore, we expected no less. (They've also dressed up as Beauty and the Beast, mummies, and Underdog and Sweet Polly Purebred.)

5. Scare-a-lot

The White House is probably one of the best places to go trick or treating, provided that the current health-focused administration hasn't completely phased out the candy. Back in 1963, John, Jr. and Caroline Kennedy made the rounds all the way to the Oval Office. Their dad's costume: most photogenic POTUS ever.

6. Bo(o) Obama

There's nothing scary about First Dog Bo Obama. His owners have joked that the four-legged fluffball is even more charismatic than the president. Still, Bo enjoys his privacy. This superhero doppelganger is only a statue that's decorated for each holiday at the White House.

7. Cowboy Dog-plomacy


Former First Dog Barney wasn't a favorite White House pet. The Scottish terrier got a lot of bad press, perhaps because he had a tendency to bite members of the media. Karl Rove called Barney "a lump," and Vladimir Putin said he was too small to befit a world leader. But his owners, former President George W. and Laura Bush, just think he's a loner cowboy—and dressed him accordingly in 2007. (India and Miss Beazley are dressed up as a wizard and a strawberry, respectively.)

8. May The Snark Be With You

Some critics of former Vice President Dick Cheney have called him "the Darth Vader of the Bush administration," a distinction he eventually embraced. In 2007, Cheney even dressed his black Labrador retriever Jackson as the Sith Lord. His other Lab, Dave, served as a heroic foil in a Superman costume.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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Why Your Traditional Thanksgiving Should Include Oysters
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If you want to throw a really traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll need oysters. The mollusks would have been featured prominently on the holiday tables of the earliest American settlers—even if that beloved Thanksgiving turkey probably wasn’t. At the time, oysters were supremely popular additions to the table for coastal colonial settlements, though in some cases, they were seen as a hardship food more than a delicacy.

For one thing, oysters were an easy food source. In the Chesapeake Bay, they were so plentiful in the 17th and 18th centuries that ships had to be careful not to run aground on oyster beds, and one visitor in 1702 wrote that they could be pulled up with only a pair of tongs. Native Americans, too, ate plenty of oysters, occasionally harvesting them and feasting for days.

Early colonists ate so many oysters that the population of the mollusks dwindled to dangerously low levels by the 19th century, according to curriculum prepared by a Gettysburg University history professor. In these years, scarcity turned oysters into a luxury item for the wealthy, a situation that prevailed until the 1880s, when oyster production skyrocketed and prices dropped again [PDF]. If you lived on the coast, though, you were probably still downing the bivalves.

Beginning in the 1840s, canning and railroads brought the mollusks to inland regions. According to 1985's The Celebrated Oysterhouse Cookbook, the middle of the 19th century found America in a “great oyster craze,” where “no evening of pleasure was complete without oysters; no host worthy of the name failed to serve 'the luscious bivalves,' as they were actually called, to his guests.”

At the turn of the century, oysters were still a Thanksgiving standard. They were on Thanksgiving menus everywhere from New York City's Plaza Hotel to train dining cars, in the form of soup, cocktails, and stuffing.

In 1954, the Fish and Wildlife Service tried to promote Thanksgiving oysters to widespread use once again. They sent out a press release [PDF], entitled “Oysters—a Thanksgiving Tradition,” which included the agency’s own recipes for cocktail sauce, oyster bisque, and oyster stuffing.

In the modern era, Thanksgiving oysters have remained most popular in the South. Oyster stuffing is a classic dish in New Orleans, and chefs like Emeril Lagasse have their own signature recipes. If you’re not looking for a celebrity chef’s recipe, perhaps you want to try the Fish and Wildlife Service’s? Check it out below.

Oyster Stuffing


1 pint oysters
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
4 cups day-old bread cubes
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Dash poultry seasoning
Dash pepper

Drain oysters, saving liquor, and chop. Cook celery and onion in butter until tender. Combine oysters, cooked vegetables, bread cubes, and seasonings, and mix thoroughly. If stuffing seems dry, moisten with oyster liquor. Makes enough for a four-pound chicken.

If you’re using a turkey, the FWS advises that the recipe above provides enough for about every five pounds of bird, so multiply accordingly.


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