Food  |  News & Politics

Donald Trump and Ketchup: A History

The ex-President's preferred condiment, explained

Photo by Jeff Elkins

There were so many revelations in Cassidy Hutchinson’s blockbuster testimony in the January 6 hearings Tuesday: Donald Trump allegedly grabbing the wheel of an SUV! Known guns in the crowd! But forgive this food editor if the image I can’t get out of my head is “ketchup dripping down the wall.”

As the aide to former chief of staff Mark Meadows testified, Trump was so irate that then Attorney General Bill Barr gave an interview to the AP saying there was no widespread voter fraud that he threw his lunch at the wall, leaving behind a shattered porcelain plate and goopy red condiment.

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It’s no secret that the fast-food-loving ex-President’s condiment of choice is ketchup. (Perhaps lesser known: Trump may, possibly, be a distant relative of the Heinz family.) It’s been widely reported that Trump enjoyed ketchup with his well-done steaks. The tidbit originated from an anonymous server at Trump hotel steakhouse BLT Prime in an Independent Journal Review story that’s since been deleted. Badger Russell, another former server at BLT Prime, told Washingtonian in 2019 that this rumor was overblown. As far as Russell could tell, Trump ate the ketchup with his fries.

However Trump enjoyed the condiment, he certainly enjoyed it, and those around him did their best to accommodate his tastes. When Trump made his first presidential visit to Saudi Arabia in 2017, officials served him steak with a side of ketchup, alongside more traditional halal lamb and rice. And when Trump dined in the steakhouse of his own DC hotel, staff had very specific instructions on how to serve the ketchup. According to a “Standard Operating Procedure” document obtained by Washingtonian, the President’s server was to open mini glass bottles of Heinz in front of him, taking care to ensure he could hear the seal make the “pop” sound. (Other detailed instructions included a seven-step process, with photo illustrations, for pouring Diet Coke.)

Trump wasn’t always so formal about his ketchup consumption, though. In 2017, Politico reported that the White House kitchen staff couldn’t adequately replicate a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with cheese, so bodyguard and “Trump whisperer” Keith Schiller would fetch him the real deal with no pickles and extra ketchup.

If we had to make an educated guess, it was probably a burger that Trump threw at the wall in his fury over the 2020 election—with extra ketchup, of course.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.