This weekend, presidential candidates will begin their descent on the Iowa State Fair, a campaign tradition that allows voters to get up close with candidates.
A campaign trip to the fair involves a plethora of rituals: Giving a speech and taking questions on a hay bale, going on some carnival rides, taking a picture in front of a giant cow made of butter, and, most importantly, eating a lot of fatty, greasy food.
One of the Iowa State Fair’s signature items is the pork-chop on a stick, which candidates have been indulging in for the past several election cycles along with corn dogs and ice cream.
Eating fried food with Iowans is a necessary part of a campaign strategy that allows candidates to appear folksy. As The Washington Post notes, candidates generally pack on weight during campaigns because it can be difficult or impolite to turn down food when voters offer.
Some candidates embrace the grease, while others need a little coaching.
According to New York Times reporter Amy Chozick, Secretary of State John Kerry’s then-press secretary, Robert Gibbs, freaked out when he saw Kerry slurping a smoothie instead of eating fried food during a trip to the fair in 2003.
“Somebody get a f—— corn dog in his hand — now!” Gibbs said.
But if the candidates this year are looking to impress Iowans with enthusiasm for unhealthy food, they will have to beat out former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who downed a corndog, hard-boiled egg-on-a-stick, and a massive pork-chop on-a-stick when he attended the fair in 2011.
Here are some of the current and former presidential candidates and past candidates chowing down at the fair.
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