In the spirit of the upcoming 2017 inauguration, we challenge you to eat like a commander-in-chief for the day, and explore these past presidential favorites. They may be greasy, gross or just plain outdated, but they will forever have a place in history. Here is a list of every president’s favorite food. (We would most love to hang with Jefferson and FDR. Cheesy carbs… yum!)
George Washington may have never chopped down that cherry tree, but the country’s first president did love cherries. He also had a love of fish and nuts. “My manner of living is plain, and I do not mean to be put out by it. A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always welcome. Those who expect more will be disappointed,” he once said of his diet.
John Adams grew up in New England and preferred menus from the Northeast, but grew to appreciate the local grub in other cities where he lived as well—Paris, London, New York, Philadelphia. John Adams also drank a large tankard of cider every morning before starting his day… Not sure your boss would approve.
During his two-term presidency, Jefferson spent $10,855 on wine, which is the 2016 equivalent of about $200k. He is also credited with increasing the popularity of mac and cheese, among other French foods, in America after discovering the comfort food on a trip to France.
Dolley Madison is known for her sweet treats and baking abilities, but the one thing both Madisons liked above all else was ice cream. Modern freezers weren’t part of the home yet, so an estate had to rely on an ice house for storing large ice blocks cut from frozen water. Popular flavors at the time were oyster, parmesan, vanilla, asparagus and chestnut. Try finding those at Dairy Queen.
Monroe developed a taste for fancy French cuisine, like many well-to-do folks of the day, but it was Virginia Spoon Bread he favored above all else.
John Quincy Adams
Adams was most fond of crackers and simple fruit. The White House orchards would have bore apricots, plums, apples and pears during his years.
With a name like Old Hickory and a reputation as a tough and aggressive leader—duel anyone?—you might think Jackson a steak and potatoes kind of guy, but you would be wrong. French food including floating islands and mini custard tarts were what he loved most.
Like many Dutchmen of his era, MVB had a taste for oysters, but his personal favorite food was Dutch Apple Cake.
William Henry Harrison
A letter revels W.H.H.’s love of fresh vegetables. When he traveled to Bogota as United States Minister in the 1830s, he wrote home: “I have a very excellent garden, beans, peas, cabbages, cauliflower, celery and artichokes…”
Tyler liked sweets more than anything else. Puddings were his favorite.
James K Polk
Hailing from North Carolina, Polk preferred the Southern dish of plain ham and corn pone.
Taylor also appreciated anything Southern on the White House menu and in particular Creole food, which he developed a taste for while living in Louisiana.
Under Millard Fillmore, the first iron cookstove was installed in the White House. Soup full of plenty of meat, potatoes and vegetables was his go-to meal.
Piece most enjoyed fried clams, clam chowder, New Hampshire seed cookies and New Hampshire fried pies.
Like Adams and Jefferson, French cuisine and gourmet foods topped his preferred list.
“Once in a while my mother used to get some sorghum and some ginger and mix us up a batch of gingerbread,” said President Lincoln of his favorite childhood food in rural Kentucky. “It wasn’t often, and it was our biggest treat. One day, I smelled it and came into the house to get my share while it was hot. I found she had baked me three gingerbread men, and I took them out under a hickory tree to eat them.”
Johnson’s favorite dish was a Southern creation called Hoppin’ John made with black-eyed peas, rice, onion, bacon and salt.
Ulysses S. Grant
The 18th President is noted for his love of lemon-flavored rice pudding.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford was a breakfast all day kind of guy. His go-to was cornmeal pancakes with syrup.
James A. Garfield
Garfield’s favorite food was squirrel soup. If you’re still on board with eating like a president for the day, we’ll throw you a life raft here and also mention he liked fresh bread and milk.
Chester A. Arthur
President Arthur’s favorite meal would have featured mutton chops—yes, just like his famously style facial hair.
Grover Cleveland is ranked as one of the least healthy presidents. Likely contributing to his obesity were his love of rich food and beer. He dined on corned beef and cabbage, steak and eggs, pickled herring and snickerdoodles.
Benjamin Harrison’s favorite foods include terrapin, corn and fig pudding.
Meat and fish were President McKinley’s favorites during his years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Teddy’s taste buds preferred wild game and steak. Not surprising for this famous outdoorsman.
William Howard Taft
It’s probably no surprise the heaviest U.S. President didn’t list kale and quinoa among his favorite foods. At 300+ pounds, President Taft loved steak and potatoes. He ultimately ended up installing a larger bathtub in the White House to accommodate his growing size.
Wilson’s top pick would fit right in with today’s health-conscious crew. He preferred a simple chicken salad.
Warren G. Harding
During his scandalous administration, Harding found comfort in classic chicken pot pie.
Some Americans argue over whether to eat apple pie with or without cheddar cheese, but President Coolidge had a different idea entirely. His favorite food was pork apple pie.
Eating like President Hoover today would allow you to load a sweet potato with lots of toasted marshmallows. Not bad.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
If we didn’t love him enough already, FDR’s favorite food was a grilled cheese sandwich, according to Henrietta Nesbitt, the White House housekeeping during his administration. Other favorites included scrambled eggs, hot dogs, fish chowder and fruitcake.
Harry S. Truman
“I like well-done steaks,” wrote President Truman on a food questionnaire now kept in the archives at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. He also mentioned “[My] mother’s custard pie and fried chicken,” and “Mrs. Truman’s chocolate cake and chicken and dumplings.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Ike’s favorite beef stew recipe has been widely requested by the public. He also loved Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge.
John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy remained true to his New England roots and kept his love of New England clam “chowdah” and corn muffins throughout his time at the White House. Boston’s Oyster House—the oldest continually operated restaurant and oyster bar in America—was a favorite dining spot of Kennedy. He regularly ate at booth 18, which nows bears a dedication plaque in his name.
Lyndon B. Johnson
When you’re the President, you have a WH kitchen staff that can whip you up just about anything. But Lyndon B. Johnson wanted something no chef could create—Fresca. The president loved the carbonated beverage so much, he ordered a pop machine be installed in the Oval Office. You never know when knowing trivia like this could buy you all the Fresca in the world.
Nixon ate lots of yogurt and cottage cheese, which he considered good for his health. According to a Dec. 3, 1969 article in the Reading Eagle, Nixon liked to spice up the bland flavor of the cottage cheese with lots of ketchup—an odd habit he picked up from his grandmother who lived to the age of 93.
Gerald Ford’s favorite feast included pot roast, red cabbage and butter pecan ice cream. He also liked waffles with strawberries and sour cream.
Southern foods like corn bread and sirloin steak were the favorite during Georgia native Jimmy Carter’s presidency at the White House—Let’s not forget the Carter family named their dog Grits.
The most well-know presidential favorite food is surely Ronny Reagan and his love of jelly beans—specifically licorice-flavored jelly beans. A patriotic blueberry flavor was created for his presidential inauguration in 1981, and more than 3 tons of jelly beans were consumed during the celebration. Other food favorites included pumpkin pecan pie, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies and Nancy’s fudge brownies. Sweet tooth much?
George H. W. Bush
Hot sauce had a moment when George H. W. entered the presidency. The Texas native splashed everything from fried pork rinds to eggs with the spicy, red condiment. Pork rind sales also actually increased during his presidency.
Before announcing in 2011 he was switching to a vegan diet, Clinton loved greasy jalapeño cheeseburgers with mayo, lettuce, pickles and onions from Doe’s Eat Place in Little Rock. Later, he reportedly had a penchant for McDonald’s fast food. He probably could have seen his heart issues coming…
George W. Bush
White House Executive Chef, Cristeta Comerford revealed, “The President loves what we call home-made ‘cheeseburger pizzas.’” The pizzas are made by topping a margherita pizza with every ingredient of a cheeseburger. God bless America.
Given the First Lady’s campaign promoting healthy eating in America, you can bet you’ll find lots of veggies on the Obama’s table. Much of what the First Family eats, is grown and sourced locally. Even the honey is harvested by a resident beekeeper. When Michelle isn’t looking, Barack splurges on his true favorite meal—chili or nachos. In an interview with Jerry Seinfeld, President Obama said nachos are, “One of those foods where I have to have it taken away. I’ll have guacamole coming out of my eyeballs.” If that doesn’t make him a relatable guy, I don’t know what does.
While it’s yet to be seen what Donald will demand of the White House kitchen, he told People.com that he usually eats eggs over-well and medium-cooked bacon for breakfast. He has posted photos to Twitter of himself eating lots of fast food including KFC and burgers, and he was caught by comedian Jon Stewart eating pizza—but just the toppings—with a knife and fork, skipping out on the crust to avoid calories. And let’s not forget the now infamous taco bowl photo. If this President-elect is to go the distance, we hope he shapes up his diet!