The political conventions wrapped up last week, so we know the official presidential nominees of the two major political parties.
The bar for food and the President of the United States has been set by Barack Obama, who will leave the post in January 2017. Neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will live up to that standard. But you might be surprised how similar their food patterns reflect their personalities and the notable exceptions.
Let's examine the food patterns of the two presidential candidates as seen through the eyes of The Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema. We'll start in the order of the candidates from the conventions.
Donald J. Trump
Donald Trump might be a billionaire; then again, probably not. But his food tastes run the blue-collar route.
Breakfast is his least favorite meal of the day. Bacon and eggs or cornflakes are top breakfast choices. Lunch is at his desk, Sietsema noted. The infamous taco bowl picture shows Trump at his desk eating lunch.
You shouldn't be surprised that Trump doesn't like vegetables and doesn't eat a lot of them. As Sietsema said, "If he eats anything cruciferous, it’s a mystery, right up there with how he combs that hair."
While eating pizza with a knife and fork caught Jon Stewart's eye, Trump was eating just the toppings, avoiding the crust to cut down on calories.
In truly American fashion, "flavor and nutrition appear to be afterthoughts, while food safety is a priority."
As many as his food sins might be, the worst one might be extremely well-done steaks. Trump extols in his commercials for Trump Steaks that steak is his favorite food. But pity the cow who gave up his life for a chef to overcook an otherwise lovely steak. That is sadly consistent with "food safety" but not with good taste.
Hillary R. Clinton
Hillary Clinton might not seem that excited on the campaign trail, but her diet has a daily dose of spice.
Clinton told a town hall on ABC's Good Morning America, "I started using hot sauce back in 1992, because I read an article that said it would help my immune system stay healthy." The former secretary of state also eats a hot pepper each day.
Sietsema reports that Clinton’s favorite hot sauce is the sriracha Ninja Squirrel. She also enjoys hummus, fish, and food from India and Mexico.
With a vegan husband, the Clintons differ on their approaches to food, though in the article, Clinton describes her husband's diet as "vegan-ish." Sietsema notes that Hillary Clinton enjoys "everything in moderation, including moderation."
For snacks, Clinton enjoys dark chocolate and Goldfish crackers. Hopefully, they aren't consumed at the same time.
Clinton says she is a lousy cook but can do pretty good soft scrambled eggs.
One of these presidential candidates has done a McDonald's commercial, 2 Pizza Hut spots, and an Oreo commercial and it's not Hillary Clinton.
You can absolutely argue that Donald Trump is promoting food he would actually eat in real life. Of those 4 spots, he is only seen eating the product in the Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza, and without a knife and fork.
Then again, Bill Clinton and McDonald's were synonymous in the 1990s, though without any commercials. Post White House, Clinton fought to reduce the number of soft drinks in schools.
If you believe a president should be a role model, electing a president who has actively promoted fast food would be the opposite direction from Barack and Michelle Obama.
Cindy McCain, Bill Clinton, and Michelle Obama submitted recipes in the First Spouse tradition in 2008. McCain's recipe was plagiarized from the Food Network Web site. Bill Clinton got his recipe from his cook Oscar Flores who apparently got the recipe from Betty Crocker. To no one's surprise, the only candidate not tied to plagiarism was Michelle Obama.
Hillary Clinton famously referred to baking cookies in 1992 as a remark about women's role in the outside world versus being a homemaker. Clinton later submitted a recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that got rave reviews.
In 2016, what the president or first spouse can or can't cook isn't relevant. The approach to food by the First Couple is important. Before Michelle Obama became the Let's Move advocate, I touted that the First Spouse should help Americans reduce alarming obesity levels. Glad Michelle Obama took my advice.
You do wonder if what a presidential candidate eats affects their perception of food. If you rarely eat vegetables, you might not see the goodness in growing fresh vegetables, especially on the White House grounds.
photo credit: Barbara Kinney and Michael Davidson via HillaryClinton.com
video credit: McDonald's