In honor of our “great leaders,” and President’s Day, I’ve decided to do a little food history lesson and discuss what some of our greatest as well as some of our more recent presidents have for dinner. We’ve had, including our current president, 45 presidents in this great nation and hopefully despite all of our divisions, we’ll keep on going. But enough politics let’s get to the food.
Our very first president George Washington did not get to eat in The White House, as it was not built yet. The first cornerstone of The White House was laid in 1792 in October. President John Adams was the first to move in.
It’s been just under 250 years since his time, but we do have some specific details about his diet. President Washington was a hearty eater and frequently ate boiled pork, goose, roast beef, boiled beef, along with vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, pickles, and onions. He also drank wine, porter, and beer. His desserts included nuts, apples, and raisins. When dining at Mount Vernon, his dinners would consist of at least three courses, which required many servents.
Abraham Lincoln, the man often credited with keeping the United States together, liked a much simpler diet. By many accounts, he viewed food as a necessary source of energy rather than an experience. In fact, he would often skip meals during the Civil War and quite a few of his contemporaries worried about how thin he was becoming.
Still President Lincoln did enjoy coffee and for dinner, he would have corned beef and cabbage, and chicken fricassee, usually prepared by his wife Mary Todd Lincoln. The chicken dish helped him with the stress of the war.
Franklin D Roosevelt helped guide the nation out of the Great Depression and thru almost all of World War 2. Unlike President Lincoln, he was fond of higher end foods such as filet mignon, oysters, lobsters, salmon, and even caviar. However to gain solidarity with the nation as a whole he would often partake in simpler meals that were within the budget of a nation mired in the Great Depression. Such meals included deviled eggs in tomato sauce, along with mashed potatoes. Newspapers became so fond of his economy eating style that they published recipes for the president’s diet.
John F. Kennedy had a good apatite and with the nation enjoying increasing prosperity he could eat almost anything he wanted. Still being a man of the people, his tastes were hardly lavish.
Dinner could include lamb chops, steak, baked chicken, turkey and of course mashed potatoes. Like many other presidents, he liked his deserts including chocolate. However, he was a very light eater and had to be told by his staff that it was time to eat. He was too involved in the affairs of the nation to think about food.
Ronald Regan is credited for helping defeat the Soviet Empire and helping to tear down the Berlin Wall. The cold war basically ended because of his tough stances.
His food choices, however, were much more on the ‘sweet’ side. He loved his wife Nancy’s fudge brownies and of course most famously jelly beans. It was said that there were always jelly beans on his desk. For dinner or lunch, he would enjoy simple meals including mac and cheese, and meatloaf.
Jelly Belly sent 720 bags of its candy to the president every month, perhaps breaking a few federal laws, but for that, I think we can all look the other way.
Presiding more recently Barak Obama ushered in a new era focusing in on human rights and more access to health care. He was also one of the healthiest presidents and avoided the now typical American diet of refined sugar, carbs, and fat. He was one of the few presidents who had a flat stomach and rarely touched sodas or other sugary drinks.
He was known however to have a few hamburgers and fries from time to time and a beer every now and then. But when you eat healthily you can have exceptions from time to time. At the very least, on his health message, even his critics would have to agree that he “walked the walk,” and often jogged that walk too.
One of President Obama’s favorite foods was chili and fans and naysayers alike have been known to use his recipe which was recently put online due to his wife Michelle.
Our current president has lowered taxes, made new job creation his mission and is restoring a healthy trade balance to the United States by trying to get equal tariffs and entry markets for American goods and services. His choice of foods, however, is not as healthy.
President Trump believes in the power of business and regards fast food as honest and trustworthy. According to CNN President Trump stated “One bad hamburger, you can destroy McDonald’s. One bad hamburger and you take Wendy’s and all these other places and they’re out of business. I like cleanliness, and I think you’re better off going there than maybe someplace that you have no idea where the food is coming from.’
His preference for well-done steak with ketchup made the news rather quickly but less often reported is that President Trump does not engage in any alcohol use. Fan or not, it’s good to have a sober president.
Thanks for reading my “what the presidents ate” guide, and please this is just about food. In this hyper-political divisive times, I’m hoping we can all still eat and drink as one united nation.
Leonard Goffe is an author, writer, and journalist based in South Florida. He is available for your public relations, content development, SEO and technical writing needs.
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