Presidential History is Full of Bar-B-Que Traditions
By Dana Cobb, TrizCom PR
Bar-b-que has been a longstanding tradition for holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Families and friends gather around a grill to enjoy ribs, brisket and sausage smothered in sauce. Many do not realize that, like America, bar-b-que has evolved over time as presidents pass down their traditions from one to another.
America’s love for bar-b-que began with our first president, George Washington. In a 1769 journal entry, he wrote, “Went in to Alexandria to a Barbecue and stayed all Night.” He attended and hosted several bar-b-ques from then on, passing down a tradition many of our leaders continued. The seventh president, Andrew Jackson, made bar-b-que a staple at presidential campaigns and is credited as the first to establish the Election Day bar-b-que.
Former President James K. Polk was not known as a bar-b-que supporter, but he was in power in 1845 when Texas was added to the Union. Without him, Texan bar-b-que would not be American. Former President Abraham Lincoln’s campaign rallies were usually at picnics with pit bar-b-qued turkey. Burgoo, a stew-like meal of meat and vegetables, often accompanied the turkey.
Former President Dwight Eisenhower was seen grilling at the White House on several occasions throughout his residency. He said he could eat steak every day of the week. At times, the public wrote to the White House inquiring about recipes for different sauces. He was delighted to pass on his tips and tricks.
Former President Lyndon Johnson became the most important representative for Texas bar-b-que. His caterer, Walter Jetton, fed 300 hungry mouths at the first bar-b-que state dinner. LBJ continued to host prominent leaders at the White House and his Texas ranch throughout his presidency, usually serving ribs and brisket.
Former President George H.W. Bush also preferred Texas bar-b-que. He hosted regular Sunday bar-b-ques on the White House Lawn. He passed the tradition down to his son, former President George W. Bush, when he served as president. President Bush had planned a bar-b-que on Sept. 11, 2001. The event was cancelled, and the meals were instead given to first responders at the Pentagon.
America’s newest president, Donald Trump, also enjoys some good bar-b-que. He surprised diners after a rally in Greensboro. He ordered a large chopped pork bar-b-que plate with slaw, hush puppies, French fries and sweet tea. It will be interesting to see if our current president will utilize bar-b-que at the White House during his presidency and if bar-b-que will continue to make its mark on American history in the years to come.