Do You Have the Palate of a President?
Exploring the culinary preferences of George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon Baines Johnson.
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Being leader of the free world is hard work, and is bound to make you hungry. But what foods did the three presidents from Texas favor?
In a post at the Awl brilliantly titled “All The Presidents’ Menus,” Sarah Marshall explores the dietary inclinations of all 44 U.S. Presidents. “While compiling this list I attempted as often as possible to learn not what the presidents ate at state functions and inaugural dinners but during their solitary breakfasts and family suppers—in other words, their comfort foods,” she wrote.
We’ve included George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon Baines Johnson’s favorite foods below. And, apropos of nothing, we’ve thrown in nine photos of them eating (or, in some cases, just being in the general proximity of food.)
George W. Bush
Favorite foods: Tex-Mex, biscuits, chicken pot pie, grilled cheese sandwiches made with Kraft singles and white bread, BLTs, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, huevos rancheros, and deviled eggs.
Style of eating: “Distinct, direct, non-negotiable & quick,” according to the Food Timeline.
In her “Plate of the Union: The Picky Presidential Palate” slideshow at Delish, Jennifer Treuting recounts how the transition from the Clinton to Bush White House went for White House Chef Walter Scheib:
Chef Walter Scheib might have had the same job when George W. Bush and his family entered the White House, but it was a whole new ball game. “It was the single strangest day of my life,” Scheib recalls. “I had to literally start from scratch.” Scheib and his staff studied the new First Family’s preferences and adjusted according to their Texas ranch tastes. How did the Bushes differ from the Clintons? Hummus was definitely out. Tex-Mex and beef tenderloin was in. Like his father (and president) before him, George W. didn’t care much for green foods.
President Bush, right, takes a bite from a ear of corn being sold at a farmers market in Bettendorf, Iowa on August 4, 2004. (AP Photo | Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Bush eats frozen custard after stopping on the way to a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Michele Bachmann on August. 22, 2006 in Wayzata, Minn. (AP Photo | Evan Vucci)
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, left, gives his attention to a ballpark hotdog during the Texas Rangers’ opening-day game against the Chicago White Sox in Arlington, Texas, on March 31, 1998. (AP Photo | Eric Gay)
George H.W. Bush
Favorite foods: Pork rinds, popcorn, beef jerky, hot dogs, Butterfingers, and ice cream.
Least favorite foods: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower or cabbage
Bush’s famous dislike for broccoli was chronicled by the Los Angeles Times in March of 1990 in a story headlined “Bush’s Broccoli Hatred Flowers Into Presidential Proclamation.”
George Bush, still harboring a childhood grudge against broccoli, escalated the rhetoric today in his one-man war against the vegetable. “I do not like broccoli and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it and I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli,” Bush proclaimed to cheers and laughter at the close of an outdoor news conference. Bush’s forthright stand has brought howls from broccoli growers, who are shipping 10 tons of the green, flowery vegetable from California to the nation’s capital to feed the hungry. “Now, look. This is the last statement I’m going to have on broccoli,” Bush said. “There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided.” But the President admitted that at least one member of the Bush family likes broccoli. “For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself,” Bush said. “So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that’s coming in.
Former President George H.W. Bush eats a hot dog during an MLB baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 30, 2011 in Houston. (AP Photo | Aaron M. Sprecher)
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Favorite foods: Tex-Mex, Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes, melons, chipped beef on toast, deer sausage, tapioca pudding, banana pudding, German chocolate cake, Peach cobbler, according to the LBJ library’s helpful list of LBJ’s favorite things. He also enjoyed BBQ, sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows, canned peas, chicken chow mein, chop suey, seafood Creole, and spinach.
“Johnson’s love of Fresca was so deep that a soda dispenser was even installed in the Oval Office,” Treuting wrote at Delish.
In 2010, the Austin American-Statesman‘s Addie Broyles blogged about Johnson’s style of eating, according to What the Great Ate: A Curious History of Food and Fame:
President Lyndon Baines Johnson was a food pirate at banquets. “Most of the time, he had no manners,” former Texas Gov. John Connally once recalled. “He’d eat off of the plate of either person on either side of him. If he ate something that he liked and they hadn’t finished theirs, he’d reach over with his fork and eat off of their plate.” Aide Bobby Baker said LBJ ate “like a starving dog.” And if the president didn’t like the fare, the server might get bit. One time, LBJ berated a secretary: “No wonder you don’t have a husband. You can’t make a simple cup of coffee.” Another time, he brought House Speaker Sam Rayburn home for a meal, and lashed out at Lady Bird: “Can’t you serve the speaker of the house anything better than turkey hash?”