One perk of running for office is getting to sample local delicacies from around America. Culinary offerings come with trips to state fairs, diner grip-and-grins, county party barbecues, the list is endless.
A plate or napkin is passed to the candidate while those nearby wait with anticipation to see whether he or she will really tuck in. In some cases, this is a positive interaction or image-making event that serves to personalize the candidate.
Other times, though, these exchanges can go horribly wrong and produce a terrible image that will get recycled for the rest of the candidate’s career. To avoid a pixelated gastro-catastrophe, we've determined these are the dishes and drinks candidates should avoid when doing their food photo-ops.
A nutritious beverage and, if you’re not lactose intolerant, better for you than a can of Coke. But underneath that healthy veneer there’s a political land mine. The price of a gallon of milk is a classic gotcha question. Then-President George H. W. Bush fell into the milk trap when he seemed to be impressed by a super market scanner registering the price of a quart in 1992. Decades later, Rudy Giuliani made a similar mistake when he grossly underestimated the price of a gallon while campaigning in Alabama. Learn from their mistakes and avoid milk.
They’re starchy and filling and eating them regularly could add to a candidate’s waistline. But it’s not the spud’s nutritional value that puts them on this list. Rather, the risk with this root vegetable is that a reporter may ask the candidate to spell the word out loud in front of a group of people. Dan Quayle famously suffered the misfortune of adding a superfluous “e” to a six-grader’s spelling bee in New Jersey in 1992. They’re not worth it.
On a sandwich is fine. Barbecued in burger form, no problem. But stay away from the freshly slaughtered kind. While attempting to pardon a Thanksgiving fowl in 2008, Sarah Palin gave a disastrous interview in front of an abattoir employee putting turkeys to the sword. It’s been dubbed the former Alaska governor’s “Thanksgiving Massacre” and remains a low point in image making.
George W. Bush has sparked a lot of Internet memes, but one of the funniest uses a photo of him biting into an ear of corn. In the most famous adaptation of the original, the ear of corn has been replaced with a kitten. All that for a vegetable that can stay stuck in your teeth all day?
More of a choking hazard than anything. Their everyman appeal is not worth the risk.
John Edwards made a tradition of eating at this fast-food chain with his late wife, Elizabeth Edwards, on their wedding anniversaries. But after the North Carolina Democrat’s career was tainted by scandal, Wendy’s has developed a taboo. Candidates would be best to avoid it.
4. Ice Cream
A Bill Clinton favorite, ice cream has long been a photo-op staple of candidates
visiting small-town Main Streets, or while on vacation. But if the cameras stick around too long, there’s a risk the chocolate scoops are going to melt everywhere. Moreover, the photos usually feature an extended tongue, as Mitt Romney learned.
Sure, it’s delicious, healthy and grown all over America. But this green herb has somehow become the poster vegetable of the Whole Foods-shopping elite.
Republican candidates, in particular, need to avoid its peppery leaves lest they seem to be friendly with its main booster, President Obama.
For those looking to keep off the weight while doing nothing but sitting on a bus or standing before a lectern, raw fresh fish on rice with a dollop of wasabi is a great, on-the-go meal. It’s the freshness that can get candidates in trouble. Remember, you’re often campaigning a long way from the ocean. Plus, there’s that elitist angle, or possible stomach upheaval, as Bush senior infamously experienced in Japan.
1. Corn Dogs
Since this American delicacy first graced the state fair circuit, a myriad of candidates have tucked into a battered, deep-fried, all-beef wiener in front of a bevy of cameras. But rarely have the images been anything but hilarious. The reward isn’t worth the risk.