Menu Ideas

19 Presidents' Favorite Foods for Presidents' Day

By • February 17, 2014 • 13 Comments

For most of us, Presidents' Day means little more than a long weekend. This year, that's going to change. For all their starched suits, staged handshakes, and scandals, presidents are people, too -- with pet grizzly bears and proclivities for skinny-dipping. Which is to say, after all their grandiose galas and diplomatic dinners, they like to tuck into their favorite snacks as much as the rest of us.

In that spirit, we've rounded up some of their most beloved foods, courtesy of The Food Timeline -- because what better time is there to take on a new cooking project while also brushing up on your trivia? Once you've finished binge-watching "House of Cards" and shoveling out your driveway, that is. Read on to find out what FDR fed British royalty (the nerve! the awesomeness!), what comfort food made Nixon weak in the knees, and how George Bush likes his brunch (it is exactly what you would expect).


 George H.W. BushPerfect Popcorn 
"Some longtime Bush friends... insist that his true love is popcorn."

 

Jimmy CarterGoat Cheese Grits with Red Eye Gravy, Country Ham, and a Fried Egg
"Even before they had settled into the White House, reports in the press began to highlight the Carters' Southern style of life. The public was forewarned that the White House would soon serve grits to guests."

 

 Thomas JeffersonAretha Frankenstein's Waffles of Insane Greatness 
"In Holland he sampled waffles for the first time and was so pleased he immediately bought a waffle iron."

 

Bill ClintonSuzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers 
"Clinton prefers the stuff with fat in it: jalapeño cheeseburgers, chicken enchiladas, barbecue, cinnamon rolls and pies."

 

George WashingtonJamie Oliver's Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Smashed Vegetables and Greens 
"A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always welcome." - George Washington

 

 

Zachary TaylorPuffy Pillow Beignets 
"His familiarity with Louisiana gave him firsthand knowledge of Creole cooking, and he became enamored of its variety and richness."

 

George W. BushHuevos Rancheros (Country-Style Eggs Topped with Pork and Green Chile) 
"On most Sundays, if the Bushes weren't at Camp David...the President wanted the same thing for lunch: A post-church meal of huevos rancheros."

 

Woodrow WilsonGrandma's White Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting 
"I am very fond of country hams, peach cobblers, butter and buttermilk, fresh eggs, hot biscuits, homemade ice cream and plain white cake." -Woodrow Wilson

 

Barack ObamaJust Good Chili
"I’ve been using this chili recipe since college and would bring it to any potluck. I can’t reveal all the secrets, but if you make it right, it’s just got the right amount of bite, the right amount of oomph in it and it will clear your sinuses." -Barack Obama

 

 Franklin Delano RooseveltYum Dogs 
"Fact: The King and Queen of England were served hot dogs at FDR's Summer White House on June 11, 1939."

 

Ulysses S. GrantNineteenth Century: Roman Punch 
"Many of the state dinners consisted of twenty-nine courses with a break after the entrée for Roman punch to fortify the guests."

 

Abraham LincolnAlsatian Gingerbread 
"Once in a while my mother used to get some sorghum and ginger and make some gingerbread. It wasn't often, and it was our biggest treat." - Abraham Lincoln

 

John F. KennedyBay Scallop Chowder 
"Soup was a dish close to the heart of President Kennedy, since it gave him an opportunity to be served the fish for which his New England background had given him a special appreciation."

  

Richard NixonFatted Calf's Meatloaf 
"President Nixon was quite fond of his wife's meat loaf, and meat loaf appeared about once a month on the family dinner menus."

 

Ronald ReaganChai Spiced Monkey Bread 
"Monkey Bread is a heavy, sweet loaf that serves as a Reagan family tradition."

 

Dwight D. EisenhowerSecret Ingredient Beef Stew 
"Beef soup was one of his specialties, and he would leave the soup simmering on the stove in the kitchen for hours, causing much mouth-watering among the kitchen staff."

 

Theodore RooseveltChicken Fried Steak with Sage Gravy
"The only way to serve fried chicken is with white gravy soaked into the meat." -Theodore Roosevelt

 

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Comments (13)

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5 months ago susan g

The Lincoln quote is very touching -- the poverty when he grew up was something most of us cannot imagine. Certainly, no silver knives. (Isn't foodtimeline amazing! A great place to get lost.)

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5 months ago Shawn O'Brien

If Clinton's a vegan now, go, Bill, but I suspect I like his fatty recipes better!

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5 months ago cookinginvictoria

This is very entertaining! Love how you've paired food52 recipes with both famous and little-known quotes by/about presidents. Thank you for featuring my Huevos Rancheros recipe with the George W. Bush quote. All of these recipes look really scrumptious! :)

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5 months ago Claire Heslop

Would it have been too difficult to showcase a vegan dish for Bill Clinton, out of respect for a diet he has enjoyed and celebrated (although more for health reasons) for years?

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5 months ago Rémy Robert

Hi Claire, I actually had no idea about that! I used Food Timeline (apart from the Obama quote, which I had to find elsewhere) for my research, and there wasn't anything about Clinton's veganism. Thanks for letting us know!

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5 months ago LP

Yeah, I was also going to make the vegan comment for Clinton. I don't think he eats many foods rich in animal fats since changing his lifestyle after heart surgery.

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5 months ago Joy Belamarich

Roosevelt's my type of dude.

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5 months ago Rémy Robert

Which one, Teddy or FDR? Either way I agree :)

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5 months ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Isn't President Clinton a vegan now?

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5 months ago Scribbles

Very fun!

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5 months ago healthierkitchen

Very clever!!

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5 months ago Sarah Jampel

Sarah is Food52's assistant editor.

This is AMAZING.

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5 months ago Catherine Lamb

Catherine is the Community Manager at Food52.

This roundup makes me feel smarter and hungrier at the same time.