Food  |  News & Politics

Opossum for Thanksgiving? A Look at Presidential Food Quirks.

A new book, “Dinner With the President,” digs into POTUS eating habits.

Top left to right: Dwight Eisenhower and John Adams. Bottom left to right: William Taft and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Photographs by AP Photos.

Dinner With the President, a new book by Alex Prud’homme, digs into the favorite dishes of our commanders in chief, both to eat and to serve in the White House. A few morsels:


John Adams

The first President to live (and serve food) in the White House, he preferred simple fare like codfish cakes and potatoes. Guests enjoyed hearty New England dishes such as cornmeal pudding and turtle soup.


William Taft

A man with an appetite, Taft loved steak, which he was known to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Another favorite was roasted opossum: At one Thanksgiving, he served a 26-pounder alongside the turkey.


Warren Harding

He was hardly a gourmand, it appears. When it came to his own dining habits, the Ohio native favored the most American of meals: hot dogs and beer. Sadly, the book does not delve into the controversial question of whether he put ketchup on his wiener.


Franklin D. Roosevelt

He often researched the preferences of White House guests in order to honor them. Terrapin soup was one of his favorites, so when he served it to Wendell Wilkie—whom he had defeated in the 1940 election—it was seen as sincere flattery.


Dwight Eisenhower

What did Ike like? Chinese food, it seems. He often ate at DC’s Sun Chop Suey Restaurant, where he ordered egg rolls, chicken chow mein, fried rice, and egg foo yong.


This article appears in the February 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

Editorial Fellow

Keely recently graduated with her master’s in journalism from American University and has reported on local DC, national politics, and business. She has previously written for The Capitol Forum.