Being Commander-in-Chief comes with certain privileges, chief among them, having a staff available to supply you with as much of your favorite foods as you want. Alternately, and perhaps a bigger privilege (especially if you are George H.W. Bush), is never having to eat your least favorite foods. Did he actually never eat broccoli again, I wonder? The American people demand an answer!
Information about the Presidents’ favorite foods goes back to George Washington; before the digital age it seems that Americans were still interested to know what their nation’s leaders preferred for lunch, and White House kitchen staff often testified to what was typically requested by the respective Presidents. The White House stationary under Richard Nixon was eventually printed with his wife’s meatloaf recipe, in response for thousands of requests for it.
Less is known about various Presidents’ least favorite foods, but there are a few well-documented cases, a few assumptions that can be made based on the principle of opposites, and a handful of instances where a particular food was…problematic. We’ll consider all of these fair game for designing a Presidents’ Day menu fit to piss off the Executive Branch.
Rutherford B. Hayes: Devil’s Food Cake
It’s not that President Hayes despised Devil’s Food Cake. I mean, how could any person with a stated dislike for chocolate ever make it to the highest office in the land in the first place? It’s that his stated favorite was Angel Food Cake, and I can only imagine how a mis-translated instruction could have resulted in some casual disappointment on his part during a foreign dinner. Here’s a recipe for a Mexican Devil’s Food Cake, because what’s more opposite from a simple and light Angel Food Cake than a rich, spicy, chocolate one? Also: Mexico. We all know how certain presidents feel about that. Get our Mexican Devil’s Food Cake recipe.
Grover Cleveland: Coq au Vin
President Cleveland will not be having any French food, thank you very much. The president whose actual favorite was Corned Beef and Cabbage let it slip that he didn’t much care for French cuisine. In either of his presidencies. (Furiously googles United States/France relations between 1885 and 1897.) So here’s a classic French selection if you are disinclined to chant “Cleveland rocks!” this Presidents Day. Get the Coq au Vin recipe.
Theodore Roosevelt: Waffles
In 1906 The Washington Post was forced to print a correction after President Roosevelt insisted that the typical White House breakfast he enjoyed was simply “hard boiled eggs,” and not the lavish feast that the Post suggested, which included everything from fresh fruits to lamb chops to waffles. So treat yourself to brunch if you’d like to start your day the non-Roosevelt way, lamb chops optional. Get our Apple-Cinnamon Waffles recipe.
Gerald Ford: Tamales
President Ford was lucky to have not served during the time of internet memes, after he famously bit into a tamale without first removing the inedible corn husk wrapper. Memes or no memes, Gerald Ford failed to win reelection, so if the tamale fits…Wait! Is this about Mexico again? Get our Pork Mole Tamales recipe.
Ronald Reagan: Weird Flavor Jelly Beans
President Reagan famously loved jelly beans, a quaint addiction he picked up in an effort to quit smoking. While his somewhat polarizing favorite flavor was licorice, I suspect he would not be pleased to know that Jelly Belly has gone the way of outlandish, off-flavor beans, often disguised as more appealing flavors. Other notable world leaders such as Albus Dumbledore have been known to react in a good-natured way upon selecting an Ear Wax flavored candy, but then jelly beans weren’t his favorite food. I don’t think President Reagan could have been expected to react so kindly to a Moldy Cheese one.
Jelly Belly BeanBoozled Game, $14.98 on Amazon
Dare to play jelly bean roulette? You might end up with something delightful, or something disgusting.
George H.W. Bush: Broccoli
George Herbert Walker Bush may be the only president to actually declare war on a particular food, and to invoke presidential privilege in defying his mother’s attempts to get him to eat his vegetables. For those of us revolutionary broccoli lovers, there are so many recipes to choose from, but I thought a quiche seemed like the best option for aggravating a Texan. Get our Broccoli, Mushroom, and Gouda Quiche recipe.
George W. Bush: Pretzels
George W. Bush was actually one of the more health-and-fitness forward Presidents, though he was certainly eclipsed in this category by the Obama family. George W.’s food nemesis came in the form of a simple pretzel that choked him to the point of nearly losing consciousness. If you’re feeling sympathetic, a soft pretzel isn’t likely to cause too much harm, or else there’s this sweet sundae, topped with those weapons of mass destruction. Get our Carnival Ice Cream Sundae recipe.