The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

See which American presidents adored grilled cheese, European wine, and cottage cheese with ketchup.

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Living in the White House comes with a major perk: a personal chef. What would that mean for us? Soup dumplings, pulled-pork sandwiches, and nachos—mountains of nachos—’round the clock.

Since we don’t (yet) run the country, we decided to take a look at the favorite foods of our country’s leaders, past and present. When we say favorite foods, we mean their guilty pleasures, the ones they undoubtedly had their in-house chef whip up (or fetch from the pantry) after a long night of policy making. And when we say guilty pleasures, we mean all things greasy and sugary—or, in Nixon’s case, straight-up weird and sort of disgusting.

To celebrate Presidents’ Day, here are the favorite foods of some of our nation’s leaders, from George Washington to Barack Obama.

Barack Obama

Obama The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Fran’s Smoked Salt Caramels

President Obama can appreciate the marriage of sea salt and rich, buttery caramel. The President was introduced to Fran’s Smoked Salt Caramels by Democratic fund-raiser Cynthia Stroum and has been hooked ever since. (Photo: The Guardian, Jezebel)


George W. Bush

George W Bush The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Cheeseburger Pizza

Choosing between a cheeseburger and a pizza may be one of the toughest decisions you’ll ever have to make in life. George W. Bush is a step ahead: He likes his cheeseburgers on his pizza. What a problem solver. (Photo: Flickr, Pillsbury)

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Jalapeño cheeseburgers

Bill Clinton was a regular at Doe’s Eat Place in Little Rock, where he’d indulge in greasy jalapeño cheeseburgers with generous amounts of mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles, and onions. After heart-related surgeries in 2004 and 2010, Clinton announced that he was going vegan. (Photo: Daily Mail, Sync Weekly)


George Bush

George HW Bush The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Pork rinds with Tabasco

When George H.W. Bush expressed his fondness for fried pork rinds and Tabasco in a TIME magazine profile in March of 1988, pork rind sales jumped 11 percent and he was crowned “Skin Man of the Year” by pork-rind manufacturers. (Photo: Delish, Time)

Ronald Reagan

Reagan The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Jelly beans

Pass around a bag of jelly beans and you’ll get it back with nothing but a handful of black licorice outcasts. Turns out, the unpopular flavor was a favorite of Ronald Reagan, who happened to be one of Jelly Belly’s best clients. Reagan loved jelly beans so much that Jelly Belly released its blueberry flavor specifically for his presidential inauguration. More than three tons of Jelly Belly beans were consumed during the event. (Photo: UTexas, Candy Trail)


Richard Nixon

nixon The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Cottage cheese with ketchup

Nixon had an odd political agenda, as well as an odd obsession with pairing cottage cheese and ketchup. According to the December 3, 1969 issue of the Reading Eagle newspaper, the president felt inclined to eat the cheese because of health and diet reasons, adding the classic American condiment to liven up its rather bland flavor. (Photo: Delish, Eating Bird Food)

Lyndon B. Johnson

johnson The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Fresca

LBJ was such a big fan of Fresca that he had buttons installed in the Oval Office to order his favorite citrus beverage on demand. If you’re thinking, “I knew that…” you’re probably wishing you were this guy(Photo: NPR, American Soda)


John F. Kennedy

JFK The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Boston clam chowder

JFK stayed true to his New England roots through his love for Boston clam chowdah. Boston’s Union Oyster House, a favorite of Kennedy’s, has table 18 (“The Kennedy Booth”) dedicated to the president, who would retreat there to enjoy a bowl of creamy soup. (Photo: News Times, Simply Recipes)

Harry S. Truman

Truman The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Well-done steak

Most people think it barbaric to cook the hell out of a piece of steak—but not Truman. When asked if there’s a special reason why Midwesterners like their beef well-done, Truman responded that “only coyotes and predatory animals eat raw beef.” (Photo: Cooking in Connecticut, Truman Library)


Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Grilled cheese sandwiches

Henrietta Nesbitt, the White House housekeeper during Roosevelt’s administration, dished that one of his favorite foods was an oozing grilled cheese sandwich. That fact alone would make us vote for him if he was running today. (Photo: American Table, Closet Cooking)

Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roose The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Fried chicken with white gravy

Fried chicken doused in white gravy was a staple in Teddy’s diet. Historian Edmund Morris wrote in Theodore Rex that “his mother had always said it was the only way to serve fried chicken; that it gave the gravy time to soak into the meat, and that if the gravy was served separately he never took it.” We’re guessing he wouldn’t have been too fond of KFC. (Photo: Archives, Brown Eyed Baker)


Andrew Jackson

jackson The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Cheese

What better way to celebrate Jacksonian democracy than by sending the president a giant wheel of his favorite cheese? Dairy farmer Colonel Thomas S. Meacham had the low-down on how to produce a massive wheel and sent the president a chunk that measured four feet in diameter and two feet thick, and weighed nearly 1,400 pounds. Did we mention it was covered in patriotic inscriptions? Ten thousand reception guests were invited to devour the wheel (and they did it in two hours). Pretty damn good gift, in our humble, cheese-loving opinion. (Photo: Biography, Confessions of a Chocoholic)

Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Wine

Jefferson was passionate about all things foreign—especially wines, which he ordered by the barrel from all corners of Europe. He drank one to four glasses of wine a day and racked up a wine bill that reached $10,855.90 over his eight-year presidency (which in 2012 would equal $212,860.78). (Photo: Biography, Walls For PC)


John Adams

John Adams The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Cider

Cider lovers will often reference President Adams and how he gulped a tankard of cider as soon as he got out of bed every day. These folks tell the truth, according to John Adams, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography written by historian David McCullough. (Photo: Peter Larson, First World Facts)

George Washington

GW The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past and Present

Favorite food: Nuts

A man of simple taste, George Washington looked to the edible gifts of nature. His love for nuts left him with only one natural tooth. Yes, his habit of cracking nuts resulted in a mouthful of animal teeth, artificial human teeth, and ivory, according to the Smithsonian Institute. (Photo: Mount Vernon, Oh Nuts)

  • LabMom

    Andrew Jackson loved cheddar cheese so much you used a wheel of Parmesan to prove it?

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