Every President’s Favorite Foods

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As the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama was known as a food enthusiast and adventurous eater. He enjoyed regional American specialties like Philly cheesesteaks (with the traditional Cheez Whiz), as well as top-dollar sushi, as when he visited the legendary Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. His favorite foods, however, are half-smokes (a spicy sausage that is popular in the D.C. area) and broccoli — a vegetable that once inspired one of Obama’s predecessors, George H. W. Bush, to proclaim “I’m President of the United States. And I’m not gonna eat any more broccoli!”

Every president has had favorite things to eat, and many of them are relatively standard fare. From Ronald Reagan’s notorious addiction to jelly beans to Donald Trump’s obsession with fast food, most presidential tastes can hardly be labeled “gourmet.” (Can you answer these real “Jeopardy” clues about U.S. presidents?)

24/7 Tempo has compiled every president’s favorite foods. More than a few love that definitive American staple apple pie. Variations on corn, be it hoecakes or corn chowder, also pepper the list. Tastes are often representative of regional cuisine from a president’s birthplace. New Englander JFK loved clam chowder, James Madison prefered salt-cured Virginia ham, and Lyndon B. Johnson opted for Texas BBQ. 

24/7 Tempo compiled its list of every president’s favorite food(s) from multiple sources, including three books not available online: “The Presidents’ Own White House Cookbook,” edited by Robert Jones; “Favorite Recipes of Our First Ladies,” edited by John Carter and Sharon Carter; and “A Treasury of White House Cooking” by François Rysavy and Frances Spatz Leighton. Online sources included Food and Wine and Food Timeline, as well as numerous president-specific sites, among them Dining at Mount Vernon, Monticello, Lincoln Home, and FDR Library and Museum. The form in which each president’s name is given and his years in office come from the Library of Congress Chronological List of Presidents, First Ladies, and Vice Presidents of the United States.

Squirrel stew, a common preparation in the 19th century, was a favorite of two presidents, including James A. Garfield, who was famously assassinated only a few months into his presidency. (Here are the stories behind the deaths of 39 American presidents.)

Soups, pies, chicken, and various meats are common favorites — revealing that even the most powerful people in the world enjoy comfort food.

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