Squirrel stew, jelly beans, and hoecakes: Here are all 44 presidents' favourite foods

Charles Ommanney/Getty ImagesDemocratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and his wife Michelle eat a cheesesteak and fries during a campaign stop at Pat’s King of Steaks April 22, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Presidents of the United States have had some eccentric choices for favourite foods.
  • From squirrel stew to cheeseburger pizza, these commanders in chief didn’t let their time at America’s most famous address change their tastes.
  • Here are the favourite foods of all 44 presidents.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Presidents have hundreds of staff members to cater to their every whim during their time in the White House.

Though the Executive Mansion hosts some of the country’s most exclusive and upscale dinners, each president has different tastes for their everyday fuel.

The recorded favourites of each president seem to stem from choices made by first ladies, food trends at the time, and comfort food to stay consistent through a rocky administration.

From squirrel stew to cheeseburger pizza, here are all 44 presidents’ favourite foods.


George Washington: Hoecakes

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The first president loved hoecakes topped with honey, an early version of an American breakfast classic that originated as a Native American recipe.


John Adams: Hard cider

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Adams picked up the habit of drinking a morning “gill” of hard cider while attending Harvard and later wrote that he would “… never forget how refreshing and salubrious” he found the beverage in college.


Thomas Jefferson: Mac and cheese

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Jefferson discovered macaroni during his European travels and is credited with popularising the food in the US after he brought a machine for making the pasta back from Naples, Italy.


James Madison: Ice cream

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While it’s hard to pin down one favourite food for Madison, first lady Dolley Madison popularised the frozen treat during her time in the White House and the president was one of its top consumers.


James Monroe: Spoon bread

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Monroe stayed true to his native Virginia by snacking on spoon bread, which is similar to a bread pudding.


John Quincy Adams: Fresh fruit

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Adams is credited with a simple and healthy favourite of fresh fruit.


Andrew Jackson: Leather britches

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Jackson’s favourite dish has nothing to do with sturdy pants but is a term for green beans cooked with bacon.


Martin van Buren: Oysters

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The half-shell snack was just one of van Buren’s favourite foods, in addition to doughnuts, raisins, figs, and meat.


William Henry Harrison: Squirrel stew

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Harrison’s proclivity for nature might have contributed to his taste for squirrel, which was a common protein at the time in a variety of dishes.


John Tyler: Indian pudding

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This cosy dish with spice and ice cream is similar to popular English desserts flavored with raisins and currants.


James Polk: Cornbread

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Cornbread was a tribute to Polk’s Tennessee roots during his time in the White House, much of which was spent entertaining alongside his wife, Sarah.


Zachary Taylor: Calas

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Taylor’s taste for Southern and Creole food led him to calas, which are similar to the treats consisting of fried dough covered in powdered sugar now known as beignets.


Millard Fillmore: Soup

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Fillmore was a fan of hearty foods, including beef stew, mock turtle soup, fish, ham with macaroni, duck, chicken, pigeon, and larded sweetbreads.


Franklin Pierce: Fried clams

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Pierce’s taste in food was true to his New England roots and included fried clams, clam chowder, and apple pie.


James Buchanan: Cabbage

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Buchanan had a taste for finer cuisine, including French dishes that had just arrived in America. However, he also counted cabbage among his consistent favourites.


Abraham Lincoln: Bacon

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Lincoln also cited gingerbread cookies among one of his closely held favourites, but was a reliably hearty eater and fond of bacon.


Andrew Johnson: Hoppin’ John

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Southerner Johnson’s comfort-food favourite is made with black-eyed peas, rice, chopped onion, sliced bacon, and salt.


Ulysses S. Grant: Rice pudding

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Ulysses S. Grant kept things simple with his favourite – rice pudding.


Rutherford B. Hayes: Cornmeal pancakes

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Hayes enjoyed this simple but hearty dish during his presidency and his wife’s recipe for these Civil War-era pancakes has been preserved for diners of today.


James Garfield: Squirrel soup

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Garfield was the second president to count squirrel as one of his favourite meals, which is nearly unheard of today.


Chester Arthur: Mutton chops

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Arthur’s meal of choice matched his facial hair style, as both were known as mutton chops.


Grover Cleveland: Pickled herring

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Cleveland was a bachelor when he entered the White House in 1884 and told a friend he wished he could pass up the luxurious meals for “a pickled herring, a Swiss cheese, and a chop instead of the French stuff.”


Benjamin Harrison: Corn

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Harrison’s beginnings in Ohio and Indiana put him in the middle of the country’s main corn production region and shaped his favourite foods for years to come.


William McKinley: Meat and fish

Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty ImagesFormer President William McKinley, who was the source of President Donald Trump’s ‘Tariff Man’ moniker.

It was written that McKinley and his wife were simple but hearty eaters, and “liked plain food, in substantial quantities.”


Theodore Roosevelt: Steak and gravy

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Roosevelt was an adventurous eater and ate as one would expect a hunter would, counting wild game and steak among his favourites.


William Taft: Steak and potatoes

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Taft, who came to be known as the heaviest US president in history, was a hearty and classic eater, relying on favourite staples of steak and potatoes.


Woodrow Wilson: Chicken salad

Stock Montage/Getty Images, Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post via Getty ImagesPresident Woodrow Wilson wanted to build a case against the Bolsheviks.

Wilson was a simple eater, and the only stand-out favourite a former housekeeper could recall beyond classic breakfast foods was chicken salad.


Warren G. Harding: Chicken pot pie

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Harding’s rollercoaster presidency might have pushed him toward the comfort-food favourite of a chicken pot pie that points back to his roots in the Midwest.


Calvin Coolidge: Apple pie

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Coolidge was a casual but adventurous eater, counting Vermont country pickles, Mrs. Coolidge’s Chicken Chop Suey, chicken chow mein, and apple pie made with pork among his favourite recipes.


Herbert Hoover: Sweet potatoes with marshmallows

Hoover’s favourite has stood the test of time, as sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows can still be found on dinner tables across the country come Thanksgiving.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Grilled cheese

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According to Henrietta Nesbitt, Roosevelt’s White House housekeeper, FDR loved grilled cheese sandwiches in addition to other classic American foods, including scrambled eggs, fish chowder, hot dogs, and fruitcake.


Harry Truman: Well-done steak

Bettmann/Getty Images, Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty ImagesHarry Truman.

Truman was specific that his steak was to be cooked well-done.


Dwight Eisenhower: The first lady’s Million-Dollar Fudge

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Though Eisenhower liked cooking as a stress-reliever, he didn’t mind Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge made for him with chocolate, marshmallow, and nuts.


John F. Kennedy: Creamy clam chowder

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Kennedy ate like a true New Englander, preferring the creamy clam chowder to Manhattan-style tomato based.


Lyndon B. Johnson: Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and gravy

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In addition to Mexican food, corn bread, and grits, Texan Johnson tucked into hearty chicken-fried steak.


Richard Nixon: Cottage cheese and ketchup

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Nixon’s unusual favourite of cottage cheese and ketchup would raise eyebrows any time of day, but the president especially liked it for breakfast.


Gerald Ford: Pot roast

Ford would follow his classic American dinner of choice with butter pecan ice cream.


Jimmy Carter: Grits

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Though he was known for his background in farming peanuts, Carter stuck to the Southern favourite, which also served as the family dog’s name.


Ronald Reagan: Jelly beans

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Reagan was obsessed with the colourful snack, and at one point reportedly ordered more than 300,000 to be placed around the Capitol, White House, and other federal buildings each month.


George H.W. Bush: Pork rinds

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The president reportedly caused sales of the snack to skyrocket while he was on the campaign trail and identified them as his favourite, particularly when they were topped with Tabasco.


Bill Clinton: Cheeseburgers

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Clinton chased his favourite fast foods including jalapeno cheeseburgers, chicken enchiladas, barbecue, cinnamon rolls, and pies on the presidential campaign trail, years before he would experiment with veganism for his health.


George W. Bush: Cheeseburger pizza

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Former White House Chef Cristeta Comerford told reporters after the president left office that Bush loved what staff called “home-made ‘cheeseburger pizzas’ because every ingredient of a cheeseburger is on top of a margherita pizza.”


Barack Obama: Nachos

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The former president told comedian Jerry Seinfeld that nachos were one of his greatest vices.

“That’s one of those where I have to have it taken away,” Obama said. “I’ll have guacamole coming out of my eyeballs.”


Donald Trump: Fast food

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Trump has a well-documented affection for fast food. From serving it in the White House to getting it delivered to his private plane, the president has said Burger King and McDonald’s are among his favourites because they promise a standard of cleanliness that’s hard to verify at other restaurants.

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