These Were The U.S. Presidents' Favorite Foods

The U.S. presidents make up an important part of our country's history. They're also human, which means they have to eat. Doing so was more than a necessity for most of our past leaders, given that almost every president had at least one favorite food. Some of these were childhood favorites that stayed with them into adulthood while others were recipes they had picked up after traveling abroad.

Fortunately for everyone elected as president, one major perk of the job is access to a private chef. This means that no matter how simple or complex their favorite foods might be, the White House kitchen staff can make it happen. Along with letting the presidents indulge in their favorite foods, that team of chefs also kept a few of these foods from being lost to memory. From squirrel soup to pork apple pie, here are some of the favorite foods of each U.S. president.

George Washington: Hoecakes and honey

Our first president, George Washington, was known for many things and while he did like cherries, his favorite meal was actually a breakfast of hoecakes and honey, according to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Hoecakes are a type of cornmeal pancake that was popular among many southern states in the 18th century. The hoecakes were fried and served with copious amounts of honey, which was exactly how Washington liked them. Our first president was also a fan of fish, mutton, and home-brewed beer, as well as hazelnuts, which he snacked on often.

John Adams: Hard cider

It's estimated that President John Adams drank about a gallon of cider every day, and even took barrels of it with him when he traveled. As apple orchards began to pop up across the country, hard cider became a staple and was even used as payment for some workers (via Washington State University). Adams wasn't alone in his love of cider, as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were also big fans. According to PBS, Adams particularly loved to drink his cider while eating a simple dinner prepared by his wife Abigail.

Thomas Jefferson: Macaroni and cheese

Thomas Jefferson was a foodie long before the term existed. Jefferson is credited with popularizing several now classic dishes in America, including ice cream, macaroni and cheese, and french fries, according to Monticello. While traveling through Europe, Jefferson developed a taste for fine cuisine and wine, which he then brought back to the States. As for his favorite food? Jefferson loved macaroni and cheese so much that he had a pasta machine at Monticello and had pasta shipped from Europe regularly (via Monticello). Federalist senator Manasseh Cutler even wrote about eating "a pie called macaroni" at the President's House in 1802.

James Madison: Virginia ham

James Madison was a small man with big ideas. He was instrumental in ratifying the Bill of Rights and also took part in shaping the American political system as we know it today. When it came to food, Madison was helped by his wife Dolley, who was known as an excellent cook (via Food Timeline). One of Madison's favorite foods was Virginia ham, which was often served at large dinner parties and was a staple of many southern dishes. Madison's other favorites included oysters, vol au vent pastries, and veal fricassee, according to PBS.

James Monroe: Spoon bread

James Monroe, the fifth president, was born in Virginia and grew up eating southern food, including spoon bread, a type of cornmeal pudding popular in the American South and which likely has its origins amongst American Indians, according to TasteAtlas. It's made with milk, cornmeal, flour, eggs, and baking soda and is usually served as a side dish. Monroe also had a taste for French cuisine, which he likely picked up during his time as the U.S. Minister to France (via The History Chef).

John Quincy Adams: Fresh fruit

John Quincy Adams was the sixth president and son of President John Adams. He was known for his love of fruit, which was unusual for the time (via Food Timeline). In the early 1800s, fresh fruit was not as readily available as it is today, so it was a treat. Adams, however, wanted to make it more accessible and so was responsible for planting various fruit trees at the White House during his time in office. His other tastes, however, were not extravagant: sometimes he would only have a handful of crackers and a glass of water for dinner.

Andrew Jackson: Leather britches

Known for his time as a Major General in the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson focused his presidency on serving the common man (via The White House). Jackson was born in South Carolina and grew up eating southern food, including one of his favorites: leather britches. These are green beans cooked with bacon, according to The Village Voice. Jackson also had a fondness for lamb with rosemary, oysters, rabbit, duck, and fine French wines. He was even known as the "Cheese President" because he would keep wheels of the stuff at the White House and served it often at parties.

Martin Van Buren: Oysters

Oysters were a popular Southern dish in the 1800s are were a favorite of Martin Van Buren, who served from 1837 to 1841. Van Buren was born in New York but his family had Dutch roots, which may also explain his love of these mollusks (via Presidential Power). Although there aren't many other specifics about what he liked to eat, Food Timeline reports that he enjoyed other Dutch dishes and boar's head, but was not a fan of sweets. Like John Quincy Adams, he often opted for fruit when it came to dessert.

William Henry Harrison: Burgoo

William Henry Harrison was born in Virginia and served as the ninth president of the United States for only 31 days before he died of pneumonia (via The White House). 

Burgoo is a stew made with various types of meat, vegetables, and spices, and can be either thick or thin, depending on the recipe. According to The History Chef, it was likely a favorite of Harrison because it was filling and could be made to feed a crowd by adding more water or broth. This could have been fitting for the many gatherings he held during his election campaign and his short time at the White House.

John Tyler: Pudding

Although John Tyler lived simply, he loved food. Tyler, who was born in Virginia, served as the 10th president of the United States from 1841 to 1845 (via The White House). He was known to have a sweet tooth and puddings were some of his favorite desserts, as per Food Timeline. This may have been in part because puddings can easily feed a crowd, which would have been helpful for Tyler's large family. He had seven children with his first wife, Letitia, and another seven with his second wife, Julia.

James Polk: Corn pone

James Polk, the 11th U.S. president, was born in North Carolina and grew up eating cornbread, also known as "corn pone." According to The Daily Beast, cornbread was a staple of the Polk household, even though no one in the family was known for their love of food. The former president's wife, Sarah, was extremely frugal and likely made corn pone often because it was cheap. 

Other foods Polk liked included ham, Creole dishes, and French food (via Food Timeline). He also enjoyed a tomato omelet, or at least the equivalent of that dish as it was made in the mid-1800s.

Zachary Taylor: Calas-tous-chauds

Calas-tous-chauds, which means "hot rice cakes" in Creole, was a favorite of Zachary Taylor. The 12th U.S. president was born in Virginia but grew up in Kentucky, where he developed a taste for Southern food and sweets (via Book of Days Tales). 

These rice cakes are deep-fried and often served with molasses or syrup. They are similar to beignets, which are also popular in the South. Although beignets are more popular these days, calas-tous-chauds were immensely popular before World War II.

Millard Filmore: Soup

According to Food Timeline, Millard Filmore was responsible for having the first iron cookstove installed in the White House. While he enjoyed fine food, he was a busy man and seemed to have a particular love for a good soup or stew. A simple mixture of meat, potatoes, and vegetables seemed to do the trick, and these kinds of soups were served often during Filmore's time as president. His last words were even reportedly "the nourishment is palatable," referring to a bowl of soup he had just been fed (via The Independent).

Franklin Pierce: Fried clams

Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, was born in New Hampshire and grew up eating the specialties of New England, according to the Miller Center. This included foods like clam chowder, fried pies, and, his favorite, fried clams (via Yesterday's Island). Aside from a few dishes, Pierce wasn't well known for a love of food, and rarely bothered to host dinners at the White House, so there is little other evidence of his tastes.

James Buchanan: Cabbage

James Buchanan liked many different foods, so it's hard to track down his true favorite. According to Lancaster History, fish, strawberries, and ice cream were all enjoyed by the former president. He also frequently drank whiskey, wine, and port. However, one of Buchanan's favorite things to eat was cabbage. He particularly loved sauerkraut, which is made from fermented cabbage. Cabbage is a popular ingredient in many German dishes, which he ate frequently (via Food Timeline).

Abraham Lincoln: Bacon

Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky and later moved to Illinois, where he practiced law. True to his frontier background, he was also a man of simple tastes. According to "Through Five Administrations," a book written by a former bodyguard to President Lincoln, he never stopped enjoying "things a growing farmer's boy would like." This included foods like hoecakes, as well as old-fashioned bacon. As someone who was taxed to the limit during his presidency, Lincoln enjoyed simple, hearty foods that would have kept him full and energetic.

Andrew Johnson: Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John is a dish made from rice, pork, and black-eyed peas that's popular in the south. It was also one of Andrew Johnson's favorites, according to The History Chef. Johnson was born in North Carolina and later moved to Tennessee, where he became a tailor. Hoppin' John is traditionally served on New Year's Day to bring good luck for the year ahead (via History). Unfortunately, this dish didn't bring the best luck to Johnson, who had one of the worst presidencies in history, according to the Miller Center.

Ulysses S. Grant: Rice pudding

Ulysses S. Grant was born in Ohio and later fought in the Civil War. He was known for his wartime endeavors, but he also had a soft spot for sweets. According to The Clermont Sun, Grant loved rice pudding so much that some people described his passion for the stuff as a "mania." 

This dish was made with milk, rice, sugar, eggs, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Rice pudding was a popular dessert in the 19th century, and Grant enjoyed it often.

Rutherford Hayes: Cornmeal pancakes

Rutherford B. Hayes was born in Ohio, and his favorite food was a midwestern meal of cornmeal pancakes, made with cornmeal, flour, milk, eggs, and baking powder. According to The Triangle News Leader, Hayes often requested this dish from his wife, Lucy. Hayes wasn't a big drinker, however, and banned alcohol in the White House during his time there. He was the first president to do this, but the teetotaling didn't last long. Alcohol was back in the White House by the time James Garfield took office.

James Garfield: Squirrel soup

According to Food Timeline, James Garfield was very fond of squirrel soup. Although it might sound a little bizarre, squirrel was a relatively common protein in the 1800s. Squirrel soup is typically made with squirrel meat, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and spices like thyme and pepper. It's a hearty dish that would have certainly been filling for the president. Unfortunately, Garfield was plagued with poor health for most of his life, so he may not have been able to keep this dish down very often.

Chester Arthur: Mutton chops

Chester Arthur had the unique distinction of sharing his favorite food with his signature look. Arthur's most requested meal, according to Food Timeline, was a dinner of mutton chops and a glass of ale. This president was also known for his bushy sideburns, commonly referred to as mutton chops. Whether these two were related, we'll never know. However, we do know that Arthur was remembered for his extravagant taste and liked to host lavish dinner parties at the White House. There, his staff would serve everything from mutton chops to roast beef to macaroni pie.

Grover Cleveland: Pickled herring

Grover Cleveland was born in New Jersey and later moved to New York, where he became a lawyer (via The White House). He married Frances Folsom in 1886, and the couple had five children together. According to The Miller Center, one of Cleveland's favorite foods was pickled herring, which is a popular dish in Scandinavia. Cleveland also enjoyed other types of seafood, including oysters and lobsters. He was known for his hearty appetite, and would often eat large meals, although he wasn't a fan of the "fancy" cooking at the White House.

Benjamin Harrison: Corn

Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States, was born in Indiana and later served as a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, before becoming president in 1889 (via The White House). One of Harrison's favorite foods was corn, which is no surprise given his roots in the Midwest. According to The History Chef, Harrison and his wife Caroline were known as "corn addicts" who ate the vegetable often. They likely enjoyed it in dishes such as corn muffins, stewed corn, and corn fritters.

William McKinley: Meat and fish

There's not a lot known about William McKinley's dietary habits. According to Food Timeline, he was known to enjoy both meat and fish but didn't have any particular favorites. This is likely because McKinley was a relatively private person who didn't share much about his personal life with the public. However, we do know that he was born in Ohio and liked to eat food from his home state. He also enjoyed a dish called hot lobster salad enough to serve it on his 25th wedding anniversary.

Theodore Roosevelt: Fried chicken and gravy

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president, was born in New York City in 1858. Often referred to as Teddy Roosevelt, he later moved to North Dakota, where he became a rancher (via History). One of Roosevelt's favorite foods was fried chicken. According to Ancestry, Roosevelt also liked gravy and would often pour it over his fried chicken, which is how his mother reportedly prepared it. Roosevelt was known for his love of the outdoors and hunting, and so may have also enjoyed game meat.

William Howard Taft: Steak and potatoes

William Howard Taft was born in Ohio in 1857, studied law at Yale, and served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (via The White House). One of Taft's favorite foods was steak, which he would often eat for breakfast, according to The Washington Post. He also enjoyed potatoes and would sometimes have them for breakfast as well. Perhaps due in part to his love of this carb-heavy meal, Taft was also the heaviest president in history, weighing in at over 330 pounds. Taft went on a diet in 1911, but it didn't seem to affect his weight much.

Woodrow Wilson: Chicken salad

The 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, was a well-respected man remembered for his legislative accomplishments and intelligence (via Britannica). One of Wilson's favorite foods was chicken salad made with chopped chicken, mayonnaise, and diced vegetables. According to The Daily Beast, Wilson didn't have many favorite foods but requested chicken salad often. Wilson was known for being a very private person and didn't share much about his personal life with the public, making it hard to uncover his favorite dishes.

Warren Harding: Chicken pot pie

Warren Harding, the 29th president, was born in Ohio in 1865 (via The White House). He was first a reporter, then became a before he entered politics. One of Harding's favorite foods was chicken pot pie made with chicken, vegetables, and a flaky pastry crust. According to Food Timeline, Harding also liked German foods such as sauerkraut and frankfurters, as well as scrambled eggs and corn muffins in the morning, served with what was hopefully metaphorical "gallons" of coffee.

Calvin Coolidge: Pork apple pie

Pork apple pie may sound unappealing, but when you know how well apples and pork go together, it doesn't seem so far-fetched. According to Food Timeline, President Calvin Coolidge's mother used to make these pies for him. While it's unknown how much he ate such pies as an adult, he claimed that he had never eaten anything as good as his mother's recipe. Coolidge was reportedly a big eater in general who wasn't picky about many foods. He also enjoyed roast beef, pickles, and hot cereal.

Herbert Hoover: Sweet potatoes and marshmallows

While "Annie" reminds us that Herbert Hoover wasn't the most popular president, he did love a popular Thanksgiving side dish: sweet potatoes and marshmallows. Although it's hard to track down a lot of information on this, the U.S. National Archives does list "Herbert and Lou Hoover's Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes" as a White House Thanksgiving dish. We assume Hoover enjoyed this combo to have it recorded in history. His wife reportedly loved to cook and likely introduced her presidential husband to a variety of foods throughout his life (via Food Timeline).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Grilled cheese sandwiches

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also popularly called FDR, is best remembered for his role in leading America out of the Great Depression and through most of World War II (via History). He also shared a favorite food with many other Americans. According to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, FDR had a particular fondness for grilled cheese sandwiches. He also enjoyed scrambled eggs, fish chowder, hot dogs, and fruitcakes. We can't blame him for finding this dish so good, as it's still one of the most comforting meals of all time.

Harry Truman: Fried chicken

Teddy Roosevelt wasn't the only president who was a fan of fried chicken. According to the U.S. National Archives, fried chicken was one of Harry Truman's favorite foods. He apparently found so much comfort in the dish that it was what he ate on the eve of the Korean War, which was likely one of the most challenging moments of his life (via NPR). Truman also enjoyed other American comfort foods like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, but he hated onions and claimed a dish containing them was ruined.

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Million dollar fudge

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, has a sweet story behind his favorite food. According to KARK, Mamie Eisenhower, the president's wife, used to make fudge that was so good, her husband submitted it as a recipe for a cookbook compiled by the Women's National Press Club in 1955. Eisenhower nicknamed the dessert "Million Dollar Fudge," undoubtedly because that's what he thought it was worth. According to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, the president enjoyed many other desserts, including apple and sugar cookies, both also made by Mamie.

John F. Kennedy: Fish chowder

John F. Kennedy, born in Massachusetts, had a strong affinity for New England foods. According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, his favorite food was New England fish chowder, no surprise given his roots. He seemed to have a particular fondness for soups. The president also liked many kinds of seafood, as well as steak, chicken, mashed potatoes, and baked beans. He wasn't a big eater though and often had to be reminded to eat dinner.

Lyndon Johnson: Texas-style barbecue

Lyndon Johnson was a Texas man through and through. Johnson, who took over as the president after JFK was assassinated, was born and raised in Texas and carried pride in his state throughout his entire life (via The White House). He was known (and probably thanked) for bringing Texas barbecue to the White House during his time as president. According to Food Timeline, the president's favorite meal was a large spread featuring Texas beef barbecue with gravy, smoked beans, corn, potato salad, coleslaw, dill pickles, sweet onions, sourdough biscuits, fried apple pies, coffee, and soft drinks.

Richard Nixon: Cottage cheese with ketchup

Richard Nixon was known for a lot of things that happened during his presidency, including the infamous Watergate scandal that ultimately ended his presidency. However, that wasn't the only thing that had people raising their eyebrows. According to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the former president's favorite breakfast consisted of cottage cheese topped with ketchup and black pepper. While the combo might make some gag, cottage cheese was a staple in many homes in the 1970s, so it probably wasn't the strangest meal of the era (via VICE).

Gerald Ford: Waffles

Unlike his presidential predecessor, Gerald Ford had a favorite food that we can surely all get behind: waffles. He enjoyed breakfast food, according to Food Timeline, and often started his day with fresh fruit, juice, English muffins, and jam. His favorite meal was Sunday breakfast, which consisted of golden brown waffles topped with strawberries and sour cream. Ford was also a fan of other hearty American foods, including freshly baked bread, spare ribs, burgers, and ice cream.

Jimmy Carter: Grits

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, is from Georgia, so it's no surprise that his favorite food is grits. According to The History Chef, grits were on the menu as soon as the Carters moved into the White House. This southern staple often made an appearance throughout Carter's presidency and was even served to important visitors to the White House. Many liked the dish after trying it, even if the texture could be a little strange to newcomers. The White House chef made sure the grits were prepared well, served hot, and mixed with plenty of butter and cheese.

Ronald Reagan: Jelly beans

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president, was well known for his love of jelly beans. According to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the president first started snacking on jelly beans in 1966 to help himself get over his smoking habit. The Herman Goelitz Candy Company, which later introduced the brand Jelly Belly, regularly sent Reagan shipments of jelly beans during all eight years he held office in the White House. He always had a jar to snack on in the Oval Office and even brought them to meetings. His favorite flavor was black licorice.

George H.W. Bush: Pork rinds

George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, was a man of simple taste when it came to food. According to Parade, Bush's favorite snack was pork rinds, which he was known to eat often, much to the dismay of his wife Barbara. He liked to top them with Tabasco sauce for a spicy, crunchy treat. Bush was also well known for his intense dislike of broccoli, apparently expressing during his presidency that he had disliked it since he was a child and refused to touch it in adulthood.

Bill Clinton: Chicken enchiladas

Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, had a few favorite foods, but one dish, in particular, stood out: chicken enchiladas (via The New York Times). According to Food Timeline, Clinton loved eating foods that weren't very good for him, but we can't blame him for that. Other foods he enjoyed included jalapeño cheeseburgers, barbecue, and cinnamon rolls. However, the former president decided to go vegan for his health and doesn't splurge on cheese chicken enchiladas anymore, as per AARP.

George W. Bush: Tex-Mex

George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States and son of George H.W. Bush, developed a taste for Tex-Mex cuisine while living in Texas. The president's wife, Laura, told ABC News that they both missed good Mexican food more than anything else while living at the White House. Although food wasn't "much of a priority" for the couple while Bush was president, it was well-known that they enjoyed Tex-Mex food when they could get it (via Food Timeline). The former president also liked biscuits, chicken pot pie, and BLTs.

Barack Obama: Nachos

Barack Obama wasn't shy about his love for nachos. On an episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," the former president said that he loves nachos so much, he needs someone to take them away from him while he's eating (via CNN). "I'll have guacamole coming out of my eyeballs," he admitted. 

Other foods the now-retired president enjoys include chili, chocolate, trail mix, and roasted nuts (via The New York Times). He also reportedly enjoys eating healthy and noshes on plenty of vegetables every day.

Donald Trump: Fast food

Although he often talks about his wealth, Donald Trump's guilty pleasure is affordable fast food. The former president is a big fan of McDonald's and often orders the chain's Egg McMuffins (although he usually skips breakfast altogether), Big Macs, and Filet-o-Fish sandwiches (via Business Insider). He also enjoys KFC and Pizza Hut. Other foods he often eats include meatloaf, bacon and eggs, cereal, steak, cookies, and potato chips. While he reportedly seriously likes pizza, he reportedly doesn't eat the crust. In terms of beverages, he's known to down Diet Coke.

Joe Biden: Ice cream

President Joe Biden has made his stance on his favorite food very clear. On a trip to the headquarters for Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream in Columbus, Ohio in 2016, Biden stated, "My name is Joe Biden, and I love ice cream" (via The Hill). After some laughter from the crowd, he insisted that he wasn't kidding. "I eat more ice cream than three other people you'd like to be with, all at once." President Obama confirmed that his former VP still loved this sweet treat in 2020 (via Eat This, Not That!). That's certainly a character trait we can get behind.