The real reason Trump is so obsessed with fast food

Donald Trump is known for a lot of things: his towers, his stint on reality television, his politics. But he's most importantly known globally as the 45th President of the United States. Something else you might know about him is that he loves fast food — like really loves it. 

According to Corey Lewandowski (via Business Insider), co-author of Let Trump Be Trump and the president's former campaign manager, Trump's typical campaign trail dinner was two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and a chocolate shake, adding up to approximately 2,430 calories.

However, Trump recently took his fast food obsession to a new level. As part of a long-standing tradition, Trump invited the winners of this year's College Football Playoff National Championship, the Clemson Tigers, to the White House for a celebratory dinner. Unfortunately, due to the government shutdown, there weren't enough White House cooks there to create a fancy dinner. So, what's Trump's solution? You guessed it. Fast food. He served the players a buffet of McDonalds, Wendy's, Burger King and Domino's.

But how did this obsession start and why has is carried with him all the way to the presidency? Here's the real reason Trump is so obsessed with fast food.

He thinks it makes him more relatable

When Donald Trump first announced he would be running for the presidency, many were surprised at the amount of support coming from working-class communities. Why would so many blue-collar Americans support a billionaire from New York as their candidate? 

Well, according to Russ Schriefer (via The New York Times), a Republican strategist and ad maker, Trump's affection for fast food is one of the strategies he uses to make him more relatable to the masses. "There's nothing more American and more of-the-people than fast food," he says. "It is the peculiarity of the brand that he's able to be on his multimillion-dollar jet with the gold and black branding and colors, and at the same time eat KFC — and what makes it perfect is he does it all with a knife and fork, while reading The Wall Street Journal."

Even Kellyanne Conway has claimed that "it goes with his authenticity…. I don't think Hillary Clinton would be eating Popeye's biscuits and fried chicken."

And that train of thought was still in effect after he was elected. According to one-time White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, his fast food habit made him better able to identify with those in lower income brackets. When a BBC reporter asked Scaramucci "What part of Trump is not elite?" his answer was, "Oh my god, there's so many things about the president. How about the cheeseburgers, how about the pizzas that we eat?"

Well OK then…

He's afraid of being poisoned

Given Trump's divisive politics and position in government, it's not surprising that he would be careful about where he gets his food. As one of the richest men in the world, he should have no problem hiring a personal chef who can cater to his tastes. However, instead of doing this, he has decided that the better alternative is to eat fast food for almost every meal.

Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, writes that Trump has "had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald's — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade." Wolff makes it clear in his book (via Business Insider) that this fear, and the eating habits attached to it, were a part of Trump's life long before he gained one of the most powerful positions in the world. Surely the irony is lost on the president –- to avoid being poisoned, he eats fast food every day… a habit that will slowly poison him.

He thinks fast food restaurants are cleaner

In June of 2018, the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia because of her affiliation with President Trump. After the incident made headlines, Trump tweeted out his support for Sanders by claiming the restaurant should focus more on cleaning their "filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job)" than refusing to serve people like Sanders. "I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!" he added.

It seems this concern with the cleanliness of restaurants is another reason Trump is so obsessed with fast food — he thinks their locations are cleaner due to regulations from corporate leaders. In fact, Trump praised fast food restaurants for their cleanliness during a 2016 presidential town hall in South Carolina. "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. I like cleanliness, and I think you're better off going there than maybe someplace that you have no idea where the food is coming from," Trump said.

He's a germaphobe

As it turns out, Trump's preference for clean restaurants isn't just a preference — it's a necessity. He's a major germaphobe. In his own 1997 book, The Art of the Comeback (via New York Mag), he confesses "one of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get. I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible."

Trump, who has even referred to himself as "very much a germaphobe," once admitted to Howard Stern (via Newsweek) that "It could be a psychological problem." He also claims that he prefers to drink through a straw in case the glass is contaminated (maybe he doesn't realize he's still drinking the liquid from that glass?).

Since restaurants of all kinds are often hot spots for germs, it makes sense that he would prefer fast food, which he thinks is cleaner. As a bonus, he can take it away to eat in his very own clean space instead of on the germ-infested tabletops. 

His habit got worse on the campaign trail

It's no secret that life on the campaign trail is rough. Between all the driving across the country, giving speeches, attending events, and kissing babies, it's hard to find time to eat a nutritious meal. Even Mitt Romney's press corps coined the term "slunch," or second lunch, during his 2012 campaign. Trump's campaign was clearly no exception to this common phenomenon, with tight schedules making fast food almost a necessity at times. However, since Trump was already a frequent fast food eater, being on the campaign trail only made his habit worse.

According to former campaign workers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie in their book, Let Trump Be Trump (via The Washington Post)Trump Force One had four major food groups: "McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke." They also wrote that "the orchestrating and timing of Mr. Trump's meals was as important as any other aspect of his march to the presidency," and went on to detail the great efforts they were required to make to ensure piping hot fast food arrived at the plane exactly when it was expected.

He doesn't trust the White House staff

Tying into his fear of being poisoned, Trump not distrusts restaurant employees, but his own staff too. According to Michael Wolff's tell-all book (via HuffPost), Trump's fear of poison and contamination, whether deliberate or not, has led to "new rules" that the White House staff has been instructed to follow. The rules include the staff being prohibited from touching his toothbrush and other personal items. Trump even said in an interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes that he doesn't "trust everybody in the White House." Could that include the kitchen staff? If so, it could be one reason behind his continued love for the Golden Arches.

Although Trump isn't the first president to have a phobia or two, this phobia is perhaps more akin to paranoia. It also doesn't help that the first lady, Melania, has also gone on record saying that she doesn't trust everyone in the White House either. In an interview with ABC News, when asked if there were people in the White House she distrusts, Mrs. Trump replied, "Yes… Well, some people, they don't work there anymore." She added, "You always need to watch your back."

He just doesn't like fancy food

As one of the richest men in the world, it's puzzling why Trump would want to eat at some of the country's cheapest restaurant chains. As discussed previously, there are several factors at work, but this simplest is likely the fact that Trump just doesn't like fancy food. Thisis particularly surprising when you consider Trump's background. As a man born and raised in New York, it's hard to image him being anything but a foodie. But, that's simply not the case with Trump.

For his first restaurant dinner as President of the United States, Trump decided to go to a steakhouse in Washington, D.C called BLT Prime by David Burke — which just so happens to be located in a Trump Tower. According to The Washington Post, Trump ordered a strip steak, cooked well done, served with ketchup. If you know anything about steaks, you probably know that almost any chef worth their salt will recommend cooking most steaks to medium rare. He has also been known to prefer eating simple dishes, like spaghetti and meatloaf.

You might even say he hast the taste buds of a child… and fast food certainly does a good job of feeding hungry toddlers.

He tries to make it "healthier"

It's hard to tell why Donald Trump thinks he can continue to eat this way and not have any side effects. Maybe it's because he seems to justify his terrible eating habits by making small modifications to his meals in order to make them "healthier." 

For example, he always opts for drinking Diet Coke instead of regular coke as a healthier alternative. However, studies have shown that even though Diet Coke has less calories because it uses artificial sweeteners, it still can cause other health risks — and who knows how much it really helps when he's drinking 12 cans of it a day. Maybe he thinks adding a diet drink to that fast food order makes it not quite as bad, but it doesn't work that way.

He also reportedly skips the bun when he eats fast food sandwiches, which may be the reason he orders so many of them. Still experts that habit isn't doing him any favors — he may be cutting carbs, but he's still taking in an astounding amount of calories, fat, and sugar.

Similarly, Trump says he only eats the pizza toppings and avoids the dough, but a meal of cheese, sauce, and pepperoni can't be much healthier than a tasty slice of pie, right?

He loved fast food long before he was president

If you ever watched commercial television in the '90s, you'll be all too familiar with Donald Trump's fascination with fast food. Long before he was even thinking about a presidential bid, he was appearing in commercials and promoting fast food chains. In a 1995 Pizza Hut commercial, Trump appears with his ex-wife Ivana, three years after their divorce. In the commercial, the two discuss doing something wrong that "feels so right." Of course, that something wrong is eating the pizza crust first.

Later, in 2002, he also appeared in a commercial for McDonald's' Dollar Menu. In the commercial, Trump tells Grimace, the restaurant's purple mascot, "I've put together some really impressive deals, but this thing you've pulled off, it's amazing."

And his old school love for fast food wasn't just for paid TV spots. According to a story told to Vogue by Donatella Versace, he was a fan in real life, too. Versace said that in 1995, Trump apparently tried to convince Versace,  Madonna, and some other models (all who were on strict diets) to share a bucket of KFC with him when they were doing a shoot at Mar-a-Lago, a Palm Beach estate owned by Trump. Hey, at least he tried to share!

He appears to be making some changes

According to a 2018 report by Bloomberg, "Trump weighed in borderline obese at his first presidential physical in January… At 239 pounds and 6 feet, 3 inches tall, Trump measured just one pound below obese under guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." After the exam, his doctor recommended he cut back on his fast food habit, and early reports suggested he was taking it seriously, enjoying more salads and fewer hamburgers, but still allowing for occasional indulgences. We certainly can't begrudge him that.

Since then though, there have been few reports on what, exactly, the president eats day to day and whether or not he's following up with the recommended nutritional guidelines. We'll have to wait until his next checkup to see if he's still listening to doctor's orders… or of his fast food habit is still going strong.