NELSON ROCKEFELLER once said "No candidate for any office can hope to get elected in this country without being photographed eating a hot dog." Over the years, this has become known as Rockefeller's Dictum and has come true with a vengeance. In more recent years it has led to what one reporter calls "the politicalization of food". Now you're just as likely to see a candidate having a hot dog as you are to see them kissing babies, cutting the ribbon at a supermarket grand opening or showing up unannounced at a local press conference. And it's a growth industry and applies all across the spectrum, not only to the noble wiener or BBQ (the original campaign comestible), but to cheesesteaks, pancakes, corn dogs, fish frys, burgers, waffles, ice cream, a bowl of chili, virtually anything remotely considered American fare and, to quote a recent TV piece "Woe to the candidate who fails to show an appreciation for the local delicacies".

And for you internet babies, Rockefeller (yes, of THOSE Rockefellers), was, among many other things, the 41st Vice President of the United States, 49th Governor of New York State and a 3 time Presidential candidate.

FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT: As the creation of the hot dog is shrouded in mystery, so are the early days of the Presidential wiener but we have uncovered a few fun facts to share with you. Our earliest account of hot dogs and The White House dates back to FDR's reign, when he served hot dogs to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England (parents of the current Queen Elizabeth II) on their tour of the US in 1939.

HOT DOGS IN THE COLD WAR (1945 - 1990):

HARRY S TRUMAN, FDR's successor, was spotted eating a hot dog and drinking a Coke when he was nominated to become FDR's Vice President as reported by Alistair Cooke.

DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER: WWII General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) was our 34th President and his most notable contribution to Hot Dog History was when he remarked "Some people wanted champagne and caviar when they should have had beer and hot dogs."

It was also during the Eisenhower Presidency that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev made his famous trip to the United States where he promised to "bury us", pounded his shoe on the podium at the United Nations and had his first hot dog in Iowa in 1959. Khrushchev remarked, "We have beaten you to the moon" (a Soviet spacecraft had struck the moon one week before), "but you have beaten us in sausage making."

JOHN F KENNEDY, our 35th President, who, once, while Jackie served hot dogs to their guests on a yacht, the President teased "This is history in the making; 'The First Lady, with the elegance and dignity of The White House hostess she is, serving the humble hot dog to her distinguished guests at sea..."

There are also several reported instances of JFK using the Great American pleasures of baseball and hot dogs to distract himself from the tensions of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

A quote from an article of the time: "When the news broke, the President was getting ready to throw out the first baseball of the season and eat a hot dog. How American. How embarrassing. The space race was getting more complex, with men beginning to ride those dangerous rockets. But Kennedy relished the challenge and, indeed, the danger. So did America."

Then there's The JFK Memorial Hot Dog Eating Contest in Dealy Plaza in Dallas. According to founder Joey Parrish "The JFK Memorial Hotdog Eating Contest was founded after we met a street vendor at Dealey Plaza who could have easily been LBJ's twin. His name was Bill. Bill had a heart attack soon after and quit the business. Coincidence? Maybe we just got too close to LBJ's secret. Since then, we go to Dealey Plaza once a year to eat a hotdog in celebration of Mr. Kennedy, the once and future President". See Link 1 (below).

LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, besides being the 36th President of the United States, was the Senate Majority Leader, Kennedy's Vice President and, after serving out his first full term as President after JFK's assassination, decided not to run for election for a second term, during the height of the Viet Nam war.

LBJ had several heart attacks and blamed his first one (while he was the Senate Majority Leader) on the hot dog he had had for lunch: "Lyndon began experiencing severe pain in his chest and midsection. He remembered thinking it was indigestion, perhaps the cantaloupe and hot dog he had wolfed down at lunch..." (Footnote 1)

And on his first trip to the Pedernales to brief LBJ, (Henry) Kissinger was given a tour that led him to believe the former President had him confused with West German Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger. "This was Commanche territory" LBJ told him. "You know, you Germans were great Indian fighters". Passing some picnic tables, LBJ pointed out he had them installed along the roadside instead of hot dog stands "because you Germans love picnics". (Footnote 2)

Then there's LBJ's Pedernales River Chili, which was tailored to President Johnson after his first heart attack. It is known as "Pedernales River chili" after the location of his Texas Hill Country ranch. LBJ preferred venison in his chili as did his doctor, because it is lean and fat-free and leaves out the traditional beef suet and adds tomatoes and onions. First Lady Lady Bird Johnson had it printed up on cards as a mail-out because of the many thousands of requests the White House received for the recipe.

Finally, is it my old, tired eyes or is that LBJ standing behind Khrushchev in that photo of the Soviet leader having his first hot dog in Des Moines?

RICHARD M NIXON was our 37th President and resigned under threat of impeachment from the Watergate scandal during his second term, which he had won by a landslide.

When staffer Egil Krogh told Virginia Knauer, adviser on consumer affairs, to feel free to speak out in favor of a lower fat limit in hot dogs, her comments caused a major stir with one of the Washington, D.C. papers running the headline: “Major Administration Shift on Weenie.” The president’s now-famous lines: “Stick to your guns, Virginia. I’m behind you 100 percent. I come from humble origins. Why, we were raised on hot dogs and hamburgers. We’ve got to look after the hot dog.”

GERALD FORD: Although our 38th President played college football and was known for his athletic abilities, a stumble here (boarding a plane), a faux pas there, means he'll very likely be remembered as comedian Chevy Chase's Commander in Klutz. One of his more memorable errors was when he tried a tamale in Texas and as he'd obviously never had one before, started to eat the corn husk it was wrapped in as well...

And daughter Susan Ford was the only Presidential daughter to have her prom in The White House but her 18th birthday party was her favorite, with a band from Vail, her home away from home, hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the South Lawn, beer in plastic cups and they watched the 4th of July fireworks from the Truman balcony. (Footnote 3)

Then there's the memo from advisor Bob Mead to staffers Rumsfeld & Cheney (where have we heard those names before?) concerning radio and television coverage in the 1976 election, where they were advised to pass up on the normal campaign strategies of kissing babies and not to "stop and eat hot dogs on the street corner" believing such activities were beneath the man already occupying The Oval Office. Needless to say, Ford lost to the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia...

JAMES EARL (Jimmy) CARTER was our 39th President as well as Governor of Georgia, a profitable peanut farmer and sold hot dogs and peanuts as a boy (no wonder I liked him well enough to vote for him). And First Lady Rosalynn Carter served hot dogs at a White House picnic in 1977.

President Reagan and Bill Milliken

RONALD REAGAN: Early in the Reagan years, one of his aides (Michael Deaver, if memory serves us) sniffed "There'll be no hot dogs served in The White House". Needless to say, we (The Hot Dog Hall Of Fame) took this remark personally and fired off a letter to Mr. Reagan, inviting him to stop by for a hot dog the next time he's in California. We also reminded the President of Rockefeller's Dictum. Several months went by and then we got a letter back from The White House saying '...the President regrets he'll be unable to attend...' We were pleasantly surprised (how many people get a letter from the highest office in the land?) but the real fun had only started. The very next day, USA Today carried a full color front page photo of Nancy and the Washington DC area Campfire Girls chowing down on hot dogs (below). And later, they actually served hot dogs in The White House, at least once...

GEORGE H W BUSH: "In 1972, Nixon summoned Bush from the U.N. to assume the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee. As the Watergate scandal engulfed Nixon, Bush worked hard to reduce the damage to the party. His efforts won him the friendship of Gerald Ford, who in 1974 named Bush chief of the U.S. liaison office in Peking. In that lonely outpost, Bush and his wife Barbara—their five children remained in the U.S. - have with their informal manner made friends among the Chinese. They take bicycle tours around the city, play tennis at the international tennis club, and give hamburger and hot-dog parties on the grounds of the American compound. When the message arrived from Gerald Ford asking him to take over the CIA, Bush was out bicycling". (Footnote 4)

The elder Bush was also noted for what he called his "hot dog fry". (Footnote 5)

And George H W Bush was one of the 3 presidents to have visited The Varsity Drive-In in Atlanta (the other 2 were Jimmy Carter & Bill Clinton).

Most recently, Mr. Bush attended a hot dog and hamburger lunch with France's new President, Nicolas Sarkozy (and the current President, his son George W Bush) at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON (AKA THE HOT DOG PRESIDENT) had a well known appetite for junk food (stopping by McDonald's during his morning jog, complete with Secret Service detail, etc) which surfaced early on in his Presidency. Unfortunately, we have no evidence of him actually having a hot dog during the early days although there are numerous pictures and reports of the President eating burgers, BBQ, donuts, etc. However, never passing up a chance to shamelessly promote ourselves, we (The Hot Dog Hall Of Fame), wrote him a letter inviting Mr. Clinton to stop by for a hot dog. Of course, he never took us up on our offer but the fun thing is the letter we got back from The White House. It was signed by the Clinton Appointments Secretary, William Webster IV, a possible distant relative of ours.

President Clinton at a BBQ stand

Then there's the song "The Hot Dog President" by Big Al Jano and The Blues Mafia, celebrating Mr. Clinton's other "hot dog", if you catch our drift. See Link 2 (below).

Finally, we recently discovered a photograph of Mr. Clinton chowing down at Iceland's most famous weenie stand (above).


"GEORGE W BUSH slipped a piece of cheese into his mouth. "Let's order first." He took a quick glance at the day's menu prepared for him and his guest, saw nothing on it he cared for, and announced to the steward, "I'll have a hot dog. Low fat hot dog." His hot dog arrived. Bush ate rapidly, with a sort of voracious disinterest. He was a man who required comfort and routine. Food, for him, was fuel and familiarity. It was not a thing to reflect on." (Footnote 6)

Then there's the recent hot dog lunch at The White House with Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain. The amusing aspect of this event was Steven Colbert's plea that it should have been him instead, as it is his life long dream to have a hot dog with the President. See Link 3 (below).

And France's new President, Nicolas Sarkozy and family had a hot dog with the Bush family (reported above).

Finally, there's the free online video game where President George W Bush finds himself running a hot dog stand when his term expires. See Link 4 (below).

BARACK OBAMA claims his favorite food is a Chicago-style hot dog with a diet Fresca but he's also been spotted at a local fish fry, having a corn dog in Iowa, serving up burgers in Indiana, having a hot dog with Senator Bob Casey in Altoona, Pa and then there's the now famous cheesesteak incident, also in Pennsylvania. Someone is also auctioning off his uneaten waffle on EBAY. Is it just me or is this guy an over-achiever?

Mr. Vice President Hot Dog Guy (Joe Biden serves hot dogs to returning troops on the Steven Colbert Show)


HILLARY CLINTON was seen (and photographed) eating a hot dog and ice cream drumstick during this election season but a wag has also suggested that Hillary and Obama have a hot dog eating contest, rather than a bowl off...

JOHN MCCAIN, the Republican Senator from Arizona, had his moment of hot dog fame when he cinched the nomination and was invited to The White House for a hot dog lunch with the current President Bush but there's at least one other photo of him having a hot dog on the campaign trail and then there's the recent whistle stop at Hot Dog Heaven in Irmo, SC.

RUDY GIULIANI, ex-New York City Mayor (AKA America's Mayor) is also called the hot dog mayor (for obvious reasons) and there's a recent photo of him having a hot dog and another of him eating a slice of pizza.

BILL RICHARDSON, the Democrat Governor of New Mexico, super delegate and party stalwart was recently caught having a hot dog by a camera man who was at exactly the right place at exactly the right time...

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, New York City's current Mayor (who also owns Bloomberg News), was recently photographed at the Coney Island 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest and having a hot dog on the streets of Gotham, with much of the Trump family looking on (The Donald doesn't "do lunch")...

JOHN KERRY is married to the Heinz catsup heiress but it's hard to imagine him having a hot dog. As one reporter put it "And that's the problem with John Kerry: it's not that he's rich, but that he's rich in a very un-American way. His swank has a European air about it. When he eats a hot dog, it appears as foreign to him as it did to George VI even though his regal lifestyle is funded by the enduring popularity of his wife's hot dog condiment".

JOHN EDWARD'S wife Elizabeth told a heartwarming personal anecdote at the Democratic convention about how every anniversary she and her husband celebrate at Wendy's, because on their wedding night it was the only restaurant they could afford to eat at. She pointed to the picture of the bowl of chili above the clerk's head: "What's that?" she asked. It was a photo op only and they later ordered 19 five-star lunches from the local Yacht Club...

RALPH NADER, past Presidential hopeful, etc was quoted as saying "They are among America's deadliest missiles..."

WALTER MONDALE probably lays claim to the most recognized fast food quotation when he asked George H W Bush "Where's the beef?".


And over the years, a number of comedians have mounted runs at the nation's highest elected office including Pat Paulsen and Jay Leno, who claims to have the hot dog vote cornered, garnering a higher approval rating than any of the actual candidates. See Link 5 (below).
Somewhere in here, we should also mention Queen Elizabeth II served hot dogs at a royal banquet held for the American Bar Association.

Besides the photo of Khrushchev having his famous hot dog in 1959, there's also a photo of Cuba's Fidel Castro having a hot dog which appears to have been shot around the mid 50's, when he visited New York before he went commie on us. Years later, Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin followed the trail first blazed by Khrushchev and was whisked across the United States, savoring his first hot dog in 1992.

And we recently discovered a photo of Latin American revolutionary and rabble rouser Ernesto "Che" Guevara chowing down on a wiener.

Then there are the Photo Shopped pix of Fidel Castro, Ayatollah Khamenei & North Korea's Kim Jong Il competing in a hot dog eating contest.

And there's another Photo Shopped photo on the web showing John Edwards and Mitt Romney at the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest (Romney's son Tagg stopped by a weenie stand during his run at the Presidency this winter).


Left: Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan have a hot dog.

Veep nominee former Hot Dogger:


1: JFK Memorial Hot Dog Eating Contest:

2: The Hot Dog President by Big Al Jano:

3: NOTE: Steven Colbert's video clip no longer available

4: George Bush's hot dog stand:

5. Jay Leno for President:


1. "LBJ: Architect of American ambition" by Randall Bennett Woods

2. "Before the Fall: An Inside View of the Pre-Watergate White House" by William Safire

3. "All the President's Children" by Doug Wead

4. "Honor and Loyalty: Inside the Politics of the George H.W. Bush White House" by Leslie Dale Feldman

5. Time Magazine

6. "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W Bush" by Robert Draper