Does it really matter what the president eats? Even before he went into office, journalists and nutritionists have been weighing in on what Donald Trump noshes on. Why does it matter what he eats, and what did the former presidents since Kennedy eat while at the White House?
Many compare Donald Trump’s choice of food as that of a small child. He likes his dry-aged steaks well done, only bloodied with extra ketchup. Trump frequently munches on Lay’s potato chips and Keebler cookies, while washing it down with Diet Cokes.
Ironically, not unlike Trump’s presidential rival’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, Trump loves fast food. Newsweek explains that he is a “germaphobe,” so he only goes to restaurants he trusts are clean.
So what restaurants does 45 frequent? He heads over to the golden arches of McDonald’s for a Big Mac, or partakes of the Colonel’s secret recipe at KFC for a bucket of “finger-licking good” chicken, as well as enjoys Wendy’s menu. He allegedly will eat fish or shrimp, but it is not clear if these are the fast food variety or the high-end eatery variety.
The so-called “child president” is also known to wipe cheese off of burgers or pizza and avoid the pizza crust.
Time was invited to the White House to observe the president in action. First, he often eats at his desk across from the new big screen television. Trump did not like the tiny television that was sitting in the corner, thus the new tv. You don’t need a degree in nutrition to know that when you eat in front of the tv, you will overeat!
Super-sizing his television is not the only thing that Trump does. His meal includes added portions as well. On the other hand, Vice President Mike Pence is much more health conscious. He eschews dessert and replaces it with fruit. Instead of soda, he drinks plain water.
“As he settles down, they bring him a Diet Coke, while the rest of us are served water, with the Vice President sitting at one end of the table. With the salad course, Trump is served what appears to be Thousand Island dressing instead of the creamy vinaigrette for his guests. When the chicken arrives, he is the only one given an extra dish of sauce. At the dessert course, he gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, instead of the single scoop for everyone else. The tastes of Pence are also tended to. Instead of the pie, he gets a fruit plate.”
When President Barack Obama came into office, his wife Michelle made sure that plenty of local, seasonal, and organic vegetables were served, including those grown in the White House gardens.
Obama’s favorite food is pizza, as well as chili. Eventually, beef was substituted for chicken in his chili, to make it less fatty. He loves broccoli and munches on trail mix minus the chocolate.
The former first lady had been concerned for her own family’s health when she took on the garden. Their family doctor indicated that they needed to improve their diet, and she realized this was something she could do to help her family, as well as the country. Soon, the White House garden became a symbol for Americans to eat fruits and vegetables and take control of their own health.
According to Delish, when George W. Bush went into office, the chef, Walter Scheib, had to make a huge change in cooking for the Bush family, in comparison to the Clintons.
While the Clintons ate hummus, Bush, like his father, wanted Tex-Mex and beef tenderloin and eschewed the green stuff. According to The Feast, the president loved to eat grilled cheese sandwiches with Kraft singles. Perhaps that was his comfort food?
Bill Clinton was known to munch on burgers, tacos, BBQ, his mom’s sweet potato casserole, and anything fast food related. yet, there was one food he was not interested in, chocolate. Clinton is allergic to milk and to chocolate.
Former Secretary of State Clinton told the New York Times that although they all loved broccoli, something that President George H.W. Bush detested, Bill’s disdain for chocolate caused some contention in the household.
“Talk about keeping the marriage together. One of the serious issues of our marriage is that Bill Clinton does not eat chocolate. I know. I know. I probably should not have repeated that. Chelsea and I love chocolate. One of our favorite things is rich, rich, rich chocolate cake with thick chocolate icing.”
Hillary Clinton did her best to keep William Jefferson Clinton from eating fast food. She asked people to not take him anywhere near high carbs and sugar. The president was known to eat other people’s fast food or steer his jogging path near a bakery and make a quick stop in. Saturday Night Live obviously relished skits of the president doing this very thing!
It should be noted that President Clinton went vegan after heart surgery, and told Larry King that he did not miss meat at all.
President George H.W. Bush loved hot sauce and anything meaty and Tex-Mex, but the former Director of the CIA hates broccoli, and let everyone know it! Instead, he munched on pork rinds, popcorn, beef jerky, hot dogs, and Butterfingers.
Formerly an actor, President Ronald Reagan was infamous for his sweet tooth. Jelly beans were his favorite, especially licorice ones, and Jelly Belly was his brand. Unlike Clinton, he loved chocolate, whether in cake or in cookies or in Nancy’s brownies. He also enjoyed ice cream and pumpkin pecan pie.
Former peanut farmer Jimmy Carter was understandably keen on nuts. The White House pastry chef, Henry Haller, prepared special cookies that included pecans and peanuts, that was a family favorite. For dinner, he liked a medium-rare sirloin steak, and like President Kennedy, corn bread.
It seems fitting that Gerald Ford preferred comfort foods like pot roast, red cabbage, and butter pecan ice cream, as he came into office during one of the most turbulent times in our recent history.
President Richard Nixon was a very healthy eater. “Tricky Dick” had fresh yogurt flown in from his native California and enjoyed eating cottage cheese and fresh fruit. He often garnished his cottage cheese with ketchup, of all things. For other meals, the Nixons lived on salads and meatloaf.
President Lyndon B. Johnson was crazy about Fresca, a diet lime and grapefruit drink. He eschewed fine dining, instead preferred to eat Texas beef BBQ, canned peas, coleslaw, tapioca pudding, and that Thanksgiving favorite, sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows. A true Southerner, he loved chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes. Steak was the food he could eat for any meal, breakfast through dinner, and he would serve it at the White House often.
Johnson really enjoyed eating, and his table manners were also quite memorable. Former Texas Governor John Connally recalled eating with President Johnson.
“Most of the time he had no manners. He’d eat off the plate of either person on either side of him. If he ate something that he liked and they hadn’t finished theirs, he’d reach over with his fork and eat off of their plate.”
President John F. Kennedy and his fashionable wife Jackie appeared to have glamorous parties, serving trendy French food, but his normal diet was not so fancy.
Often Kennedy was so involved in his work, he usually had to be reminded to eat. The Boston native “was true to his New England roots” when he did eat. He enjoyed New England Clam Chowder, corn muffins, and Boston baked beans.
Going back to honest Abe Lincoln, it should also be noted that he loved bacon, which would certainly give him some negative feedback from nutritionists!
All in all, with the exception of Nixon and Obama, most presidents didn’t really eat that well while in office. Yet, does it really matter what the president eats? According to the Huffington Post, it does.
This has more to do with policy, not with the actual nutrition of the president. The president may not feel it is important to keep up nutrition-related programs if he is not invested in his own health through nutrition. Nutritionists and those in many parts of the food industry may have a harder time introducing a fast food president to some nutritional concepts for government funding.
When talking about Donald Trump, Slow Food USA executive director Richard McCarthy observed that “food and food policy may not be very near and dear to his heart.” This could mean that USDA programs like food stamps and “farm-to-school initiatives” could be obsolete during the Trump administration.
Although it does not appear that any chocolate companies had adverse sales during the Clinton years, could this now mean that ketchup should be considered a vegetable again and salad greens forgotten?
Do you think it matters what the president eats? Do you think this can influence political policy?
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]