Chips, soup, and gingerbread men: A look at the go-to meals of 12 American presidents

He boards his Boeing 757-200 with buckets of KFC, crows about the virtues of McDonald's fried-fish sandwiches at town halls, and believes formal state dinners should be replaced with politicians "eating a hamburger on a conference table," so it's not wildly out of character for President Donald Trumpto request the White House kitchen be stocked with his favorite munchies, including the unofficial edible mascot of trans-fat-worshipping Americana: Lay's potato chips.

It seems Trump's approach to eating, like everything else he does, is first and foremost reliant on speed rather than enjoyment. It's just as difficult to picture a guy like him languishing over a long meal as it is imagining him getting excited to try a new restaurant—not that any would compare to Trump Grill, obviously.

Still, he's not alone in his love for junk food among men of power. Plenty of past presidents have famously snacked on fatty, sugary, and highly processed foods. Even goody-two-shoes Obama, who Michelle joked ate exactly seven salted almonds a night, found God (or at least some short-lived pleasure) in Fran's Chocolates' Smoked Salt Caramels.

Because the contents of people's gullets actually say quite a bit about who they are in life, take a look at this list of the preferred snack foods of 12 American presidents.

Read on, and try not to long for the golden days of 1801, when the proverbial White House was lit, thanks to Thomas Jefferson's standing as a (very) enthusiastic wine swiller:

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Go-to meals of the presidents
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Go-to meals of the presidents

Donald Trump: Lay's Potato Chips

Behold, a true everyman: The nation's forty-fifth president, who, let the record show, doesn't read books and likes to watch TV, had the White House kitchen stocked with the same types of junk food he likes to have aboard his private plane, including Lay’s potato chips, reported The New York Times. As logic would indicate, the 70-year-old is also a Doritos enthusiast.

Barack Obama: Salted Almonds

When The New York Times reported President Obama's late-night snacking habit is weirdly disciplined—exactly seven "lightly salted" almonds ("not six, not eight")—the former POTUS felt the need to clarify this bit of Very Important Information on the "Today" show.

“This is an example of the weird way that the press works,” Obama told host Savannah Guthrie. “Michelle and Sam Kass, who was our chef here, one night they were talking about me and teasing me about how disciplined I was, that I didn’t have potato chips or I didn’t have a piece of cake. And this is when Michelle said, ‘Yes, and he just has seven almonds. That’s it'—to really drive home the point that I needed to loosen up a little bit. And Sam relayed this joke to The New York Times in the article, and somehow it was relayed as if I was counting out the seven almonds. All my friends were calling up to say, 'This seems a little anal. This is a little weird.'" Still, it's a fact that the president snacked on the heart-healthy nuts as well as apples at night.

George W. Bush: Cheeseburger Pizza

The forty-third president was called a lot of things, but—presumably—food snob wasn't one of them.

“For dinner, the President loves what we call homemade ‘cheeseburger pizzas’ because every ingredient of a cheeseburger is on top of a margherita pizza," Cristeta Comerford, a White House chef since 2005, explained to reporters in 2007.

The junk-food tour didn't stop there: "For lunch he loves cinnamon bread with peanut butter and organic honey, with home-made potato chips and pickles," Comerford also said, before assuring the press the Bush exercised daily and watched his portion control.

Clinton: Jalapeño Burgers

Clinton's love of junk food was well-documented during the course of his presidency, to the point where his dedication to McDonald's Big Macs was a frequent "SNL" punchline. It's been said the former president also favored chicken enchiladas, barbecue, ice cream, and greasy jalapeño cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, and onions from Doe’s Eat Place in his home state of Arkansas.

Things changed after heart-related surgeries in 2004 and 2010, when Clinton became a vegan in 2011, a move he credits with keeping him alive. “[It] changed my life,” he said, [according to Politico]. "I might not be around if I hadn’t become a vegan. It’s great."

George H.W. Bush: Pork Rinds

Clearly, young Dubya, the aforementioned cheeseburger pizza fan, hailed from a line of saturated-fat fanatics: Bush senior's predilection for fried pork rinds with Tabasco sauce emerged during a 1988 profile of his presidential campaign in Time magazine, and The New York Times dutifully chased that lead with a 1989 article entitled "Suddenly, Pork Rinds Are Classy Crunch," and another in 1990 called "I'm President, No More Broccoli."

A takeaway from the latter: "After all, when Mr. Bush expressed a taste for pork rinds, sales jumped 11 percent and he was ordained Skin Man of the Year by pork-rind makers." #Goals.

Ronald Reagan: Jelly Beans

Relatable: Ronald Reagan pounded jelly beans by the handful. Not relatable: Black licorice was his favorite flavor.

According to the Reagan Library, the former president first started popping the candies in 1966, when he was trying to give up pipe smoking. The then-governor of California, he'd get monthly shipments of Goelitz Mini Gourmet Jelly Beans, and—when the brand introduced its line of hyper-specific flavors Jelly Belly in 1976—the shipment consisted entirely of those.

Reagan loved the sweets so much that three and a half tons of red (Very Cherry), white (Coconut), and blue (Blueberry) Jelly Bellys were shipped to Washington, D.C., for the 1981 inaugural festivities.

Richard Nixon: Meatloaf

Nixon's habit of eating condiment-covered cottage cheese has been well-documented but, since he did it for health purposes, doesn't really count.

"[Nixon] likes ketchup on his cottage cheese but his favorite food is meat loaf," The Washington Post [wrote in a 1969 profile](http://www.foodtimeline.org/presidents.html#nixon) that outlined how the thirty-seventh president lived. "Dick eats everything but he likes meat loaf," his wife, Pat Nixon, confirmed to the Post. In case you're curious, her recipe called for half beef, half pork.

John F. Kennedy: New England Clam Chowder

Sailing around Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, on the presidential yacht was only one of JFK's go-to extracurriculars, and the thirty-fifth POTUS would often stop off at Boston's Union Oyster House for bowls of lobster stew and—his favorite food—New England Clam Chowder.

He was such a fan that he passed along his own recipe to an American citizen named Lynn Jennings who wrote to Kennedy in 1961 asking what he liked to eat.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Grilled Cheese

Let's assume The New Deal was conceived over plates of melty grilled cheese sandwiches, one of FDR’s favorite foods, according to Henrietta Nesbitt, the White House housekeeper during the thirty-second president's administration.

Other faves of FDR: scrambled eggs, fish chowder, hot dogs, and fruitcake. Nesbitt said Roosevelt liked foods “he could dig into.”

Abraham Lincoln: Gingerbread Men

The nation's sixteenth president's love of gingerbread cookies is best told through a tale from Honest Abe himself, one he apparently shared during a debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858:

"When we lived in Indiana, 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. One day I smelled the gingerbread and came into the house to get my share while it was still hot. My mother had baked me three gingerbread men. I took them out under a hickory tree to eat them. There was a family near us poorer than we were, and their boy came along as I sat down. 'Abe,' he said, 'gimme a man?' I gave him one. He crammed it into his mouth in two bites and looked at me while I was biting the legs off my first one. 'Abe,' he said, '[gimme] the [other one].' I said to him, 'You seem to like gingerbread.' 'Abe,' he [says], 'I don't [suppose] anybody on earth likes gingerbread better'n I do—and gets less'n I do.'"

Years later, Lincoln reportedly repeated the story in the White House, mentioning details of the now-lost recipe his mother had used.

Thomas Jefferson: Wine

Between the years of 1801 and 1809, it's safe to assume the nation's third president was turnt, thanks to his obsession with wine. Jefferson's affinity for vino has been extensively analyzed over the years, and Forbes reported that—as the most knowledgeable wine connoisseur of his age—his palate for the stuff covered varietals from France, Italy, Germany, Madeira, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Hungary, and America.

The guy's appreciation was so strong that he started recording the contents of the wine cellar at Shadwell, the Virginia plantation he inherited, which in 1769 included 83 bottles of rum, 15 bottles of Madeira, four bottles of Lisbon wine for common use, and 54 bottles of cider. Party at your house, dude.

George Washington: Hazelnuts

According to The President’s Cookbook, by Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks, our first president wasn't much of a foodie, but he couldn't get enough nuts and “would buy hazelnuts and shellbacks by the barrel." Fun! And as the Village Voice reported, GW was known to carry around handfuls of nuts, which he presumably cracked with his wooden teeth.

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