Do Americans Really Like Junk Food More Than President Obama?

On January 25, Page Six reported that A Promised Land, the first volume of Barack Obama's presidential memoir (via New York Times), had been replaced on Amazon's best-seller list by Big Macs and Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World by Vanessa Price and Adam Laukhuf. Page Six's sources suggest this may be due to the book receiving a spotlight on January 23's CBS This Morning. The book is based on a series of Grub Street columns Price wrote between 2017 and 2018. The premise of these was to take foods easily found in day to day life (such as Cheez-Its or General Tso's Chicken) and, using Price's sommelier experience, pair the food with wine.

The book comes with the expected glowing reviews on its website, such as I Was Told There'd Be Cake's author Sloane Crosley's raving, "How fitting that a book about unexpected pairings is an unexpected pairing itself — Big Macs & Burgundy is a delightful mix of personal storytelling, irresistible images and wine-world demystifying, ranging from etymology to geography." That said, the average Amazon review is currently 4.8 stars out of 5, so it seems safe to say that if this is the kind of book you think you would be interested in, you'll probably love it. In addition to the positive comments of how the book made wine pairings easy, a single one star review from the U.S. opines that none of the ideas presented are particularly novel.

An idea for the times

The reason for Big Macs & Burgundy surpassing A Promised Land could be in part due to timing; Namely, Barack Obama's high profile ensured hundreds of thousands of preorders for A Promised Land, with nearly 890,000 copies sold on the memoir's first-day (via CNN). This number includes pre-sales. With so many books sold early on, fewer books were bound to be sold later.

It is also true that 2020 and 2021 feel like prime years for the premise of Big Macs & Burgundy (though it was partially covered earlier in the 2010s by both Marie Claire and Vinepair). In the continued pandemic, both alcohol and junk food consumption have seen some of their best years. According to an October press release from Wine Industry Advisor, wine consumption of regular drinkers in the United States increased by 19 percent between 2019 and 2020. Similarly, The Telegraph reported in September 2020 that both junk food and alcohol brands have used the pandemic as a marketing tool.

With everything considered, it cannot be too surprising that a book about how to pair alcohol with stay at home food has received an enthusiastic welcome. Even Barack Obama's memoir cannot promise such tasty reprieves during these tough times.