A look back at Donald Trump’s long and storied relationship with fast food

DT McDonald's ad
A screenshot from Trump’s 2002 McDonald’s ad. McDonald’s

Donald Trump is a known fast-food lover — but the fast-food industry hasn’t always reciprocated the warm feelings.

On Thursday morning, McDonald’s corporate account tweeted “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.”

The tweet, which McDonald’s has since deleted and said was a result of a “compromised” account, must have stung the president, who has made his love for the fast-food industry known for decades.

Before Trump launched his political career, the businessman had a side gig acting in fast-food commercials.

In 1995, Trump starred in a Pizza Hut commercial with his ex-wife Ivana, three years after the duo’s divorce. The ad is filled with innuendo-laden dialogue, with the pair musing that it “feels so right”  — to eat pizza crust first.

However, more pertinent to today’s tweet is a 2002 McDonald’s commercial starring Trump. 

“I’ve put together some really impressive deals, but this thing you’ve pulled off, it’s amazing,” Trump tells McDonald’s purple mascot, Grimace, referring to McDonald’s Dollar Menu. 

“Together, Grimace, we could own this town,” Trump says to the creature, embracing him as they overlook New York City from Trump Tower. 

Trump’s appreciation for McDonald’s isn’t just in the form of advertisements. The president seems to have a genuine appreciation for fast food. 

In 1995, Trump tried to force Madonna and fashion designer Donatella Versace to eat KFC with him while the duo were staying at Mar-a-Lago, Versace told Vogue. Twenty-one years later, Trump’s love affair with KFC still appears to be going strong. Trump tweeted a photo of himself enjoying a bucket of chicken while campaigning in August on his plane. 

McDonald’s also made an appearance on Trump’s campaign in an Instagram of the then-presidential candidate eating a burger and fries from the fast-food giant. 

Celebrating 1237! #Trump2016

A post shared by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

In February 2016, Trump told Anderson Cooper that McDonald’s was “great stuff” during a Republican presidential town hall. 

At the crux of Trump’s appreciation for fast food is chains’ uniform cleanliness. 

“One bad hamburger, you can destroy McDonald’s. One bad hamburger and you take Wendy’s and all these other places and they’re out of business,” he said at the town hall. “I like cleanliness, and I think you’re better off going there than maybe some place that you have no idea where the food is coming from.”

The fast-food industry hasn’t always loved Donald Trump back. The food and beverage industry donated just $US152,000 to Trump’s campaign as of last September, compared to the $US1 million the industry gave to Clinton’s campaign, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

There was one fast-food CEO who supported Trump. Andy Puzder, CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. parent company CKE Restaurants, served as Trump’s economic advisor and the president’s pick for secretary of labour. However, after criticism from labour organisations regarding CKE’s labour practices and allegations that Puzder abused his ex-wife, the CEO ultimately withdrew his name for consideration.

Trump has never praised Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s the way that he’s vocally celebrated KFC and McDonald’s. Perhaps the president was trying to avoid a conflict of interest — or maybe he just has some loyalty when it comes to fast-food chains he’s enjoyed for more than 20 years. 

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