The number of signatures PETA's petition amassed blew Butterball's out of the water... or gravy boat... or corn casserole. Photo: Pixabay

Let’s talk turkey. Specifically, the emoji war between Butterball and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). A major representation of Thanksgiving includes turkey, but what kind of turkey do you think of? The living turkey that the White House pardons every year or the roasted and stuffed turkey that graces many-a Thanksgiving table?

Butterball Turkey started a petition two months ago that the company says it plans to send to Unicode, the non-profit organization that oversees the coding standards for texting and emojis, once it hits 7,500 signatures.


PETA started a counter-petition which has 43,596 signatures as of press time, a PETA spokesman told us.

In its petition, Butterball cites the various emojis available for other holidays, like fireworks and champagne for ringing in the New Year.

“‘But there’s already a turkey emoji,’ you might say," the petition reads. "And yes, there is. But it’s not a delicious Thanksgiving turkey. So—just like Christmas got a Christmas tree, even though there was already a perfectly good pine tree—Thanksgiving deserves its own emoji too.”

PETA is more concerned with the propagation of eating a once-living animal.

“PETA went inside a Butterball slaughterhouse in Ozark, Arkansas, and exposed a worker stomping on a bird's head until her skull exploded, one swinging a turkey against a metal handrail so hard that her backbone popped out, and another one inserting his finger into a turkey's vagina," the site reads. “One worker told an investigator, ‘If you jump on their stomachs right, they'll pop … or their insides will come out of their [rectums].’ ?”

Warning: Video is extremely graphic.

We asked Metro readers what they think and heard from a lot of vegans and vegetarians who gave a spectrum of responses and omnivores, some of whom (perhaps surprisingly) didn’t disagree with PETA. And they did not hold back.

Here’s a sample of what we heard:

Frankie, United Kingdom, omnivore

I do feel the Butterball emoji is a bad idea and unnecessary. Even though I eat turkey on Thanksgiving [I have family in the USA], I see no reason for a dead turkey emoji. It's insensitive to vegetarians, vegans, and others who care about animals.

What's next? A Cadbury Egg emoji for Easter? A Jose Cuervo tequila emoji for Cinco de Mayo? This is nothing more than a shameless marketing ploy by Butterball. Emojis are supposed to be about expressing thoughts and emotions, not selling products.

Christian, Pennsylvania, vegan/vegan restaurant owner

Turkeys go through hell, obviously, for Thanksgiving, and as far as Butterball and their fans wanting a cooked/beheaded turkey emoji, well, that's just stupid. And PETA is doing what they have always been best at, drawing attention to themselves and the issue they want to draw attention to, by jumping on things like this.

Either way, I doubt either Butterball or PETA truly care about an emoji, they are both using this as marketing. People that truly care about this emoji itself, one way or the other, are really dumb.  

Katie, North Carolina, former vegan/current omnivore

A roast turkey is easy to imagine as an emoji. Like it or not, for animal cruelty or indigenous awareness in regards to the origin of Thanksgiving what have you... the culture is here and embedded deeply across the country.

Paige, New York, vegan

I'm an apathetic vegan and I don’t care about emojis.

Brad, Pennsylvania, omnivore/big fan of all the meats

A cooked turkey emoji is no different than a hamburger emoji.

Dahlia, Massachusetts, omnivore

It's just all so silly. Preventing an emoji from existing isn't going to change the fact that eating turkey on Thanksgiving is deeply ingrained in American culture. Preventing the emoji from being added also isn't going to change the terrible factory farm conditions in the American meat industry. I agree with [Brad] that it's no different to the burger emoji.

Pegah, New York, vegetarian

Isn't there already such an emoji though? … I think I was thinking of the drumstick.

I think it's silly when PETA wastes a ton of time [and] resources on things like this. it makes the cause of animal rights and vegetarianism/veganism look bad. I get that they use seemingly silly issues like this to draw attention to the more serious ones, but I think any positive effect that could have is outweighed by how stupid it looks to be up in arms about an emoji.

Courtney, New York, vegetarian

Yeah… I def DGAF about a cartoon cooked turkey in my emoji keyboard.

Victoria, Pennsylvania, omnivore


Elie, New York, omnivore

Team Butterball.

It appears that PETA prevailed this Thanksgiving, but emojis can be created at any time around the year.

So, are you Team Butterball or Team ??

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