Donald Trump loves fast food. The president famously steers clear of alcohol, but he has some other vices. Trump loves McDonald’s. He generally prefers fast food chains over local D.C. hamburger joints. (If you were wondering, Trump likes American cheese, but not pickles, on his burger.) And Trump also loves extra helpings of dessert.
Donald Trump isn’t shy about his love of fast food, and there are many reasons why he loves fast food. One of those reasons is related to a fear that goes back decades (page 9). But the biggest reason of all has to do with factors right at the president’s residence in the White House (page 10).
He’s a big fan of fast food. | Donald Trump via Instagram
The New York Times characterizes Trump as “the nation’s fast food president.” And he likely wouldn’t dispute that title. Even though he can afford to eat wherever he’d like, Trump famously enjoys McDonald’s, where he orders a Filet-O-Fish, Big Mac, or Quarter Pounder. On the campaign trail, he also ate Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King on his private plane. Like many Americans, he just likes fast food.
Yet as the Times explains, Trump’s “highbrow, lowbrow image — of the jet-setting mogul who takes buckets of fried chicken onto his private plane with the gold-plated seatbelt buckles — is also a carefully crafted one.” Presidential candidates often use food to find common ground with voters. A Republican strategist told the Times, “There’s nothing more American and more of-the-people than fast food.”
Next: Donald Trump has continued this habit that started before the White House.
Many presidential hopefuls get into the habit of eating fast food on the campaign trail. | Win McNamee/Getty Images
The New York Times notes that “junk food has long been a staple of campaign trail life” for Trump and other presidential hopefuls. That habit comes mostly out of necessity. But we all know that habits are hard to break. Donald Trump didn’t stop eating fast food once he got settled in at the White House. Politico even reported that Trump asked the White House kitchen staff to replicate one of his favorite fast food meals.
The president asked the kitchen to make him a quarter-pounder. (He wanted it with cheese, no pickles, and extra ketchup. Plus, he requested a fried apple pie for dessert.) The staff reportedly “couldn’t match the satisfaction” of the real deal. So a bodyguard went down New York Avenue to McDonald’s to go pick up the meal.
Next: Unlike many Americans, Donald Trump doesn’t like this label.
Trying new flavors or cuisines isn’t a priority for him. | Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images
Another reason Donald Trump eats fast food? The Times characterizes Trump as “the kid from Queens who made it across the river to Manhattan’s glistening skyline, but never cottoned to the city’s haute cuisine.” The president has simple tastes, and likes to stick with what he knows. Trump is just fine with that — as are most Americans.
Surveys indicate that nearly half of Americans who go to restaurants consider themselves “foodies.” But that proportion is much higher among younger Americans than among older ones. Foodies like experiencing new flavors when they go out to eat, and they enjoy learning about international cuisines. But Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about either.
Donald Trump in a McDonald’s commercial | The Daily Conversation via YouTube
Trump’s typical order on the campaign trail was a hefty one. Two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish, and a chocolate shake don’t exactly make for a healthy meal. In fact, it contained nearly a day’s worth of calories. How did Trump justify this? He removed the buns. According to Trump, this solved any health concerns.
Trump and Ivanka at a golf course | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Donald Trump’s preferred drink is Diet Coke, and we all know that if it’s “diet,” it’s healthy, right? Trump seems to believe that these small choices in his otherwise unhealthy diet will really make a difference to his health.
Next: Donald Trump says this is one big reason why he likes fast food chains.
He thinks the standards of cleanliness are higher at chains. | Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Donald Trump also likes fast food chains for a surprising reason: their cleanliness. As The New York Times explains, the president “loves fast food because of its consistency and the promise, at least, of a basic level of hygiene.”
Trump once told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “One bad hamburger, you can destroy McDonald’s. One bad hamburger, you take Wendy’s and all these other places and they’re out of business.” He added, “I’m a very clean person. I like cleanliness, and I think you’re better off going there than maybe someplace that you have no idea where the food’s coming from. It’s a certain standard.”
Next: Insiders characterize this as the real reason Trump likes fast food.
Donald Trump has admitted that he’s a germaphobe. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
When choosing where to eat, the president doesn’t just prefer cleanliness. Trump has distinctly germaphobic tendencies. He has even referred to himself as such, saying he is “very much a germaphobe.” And he even referred to the tradition of shaking hands as a “barbaric” and “terrible custom.”
In his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, he wrote, “I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.” Trump also prefers to drink through straws. He eats his pizza with a fork. And he hates pressing elevator buttons or letting the public get too close to him.
Next: Trump’s germaphobia could reveal a mental illness.
He even admitted that he might have a psychological problem. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Another potential reason Donald Trump eats fast food? He might use the habit to cope with a mental illness. Some people think Trump’s germaphobia could signal obsessive-compulsive disorder — and Trump hasn’t ruled it out. Even though a professional would have to diagnose him, it’s easy to see the connections. According to WebMD, “Germaphobes are obsessed with sanitation and feel compelled to clean excessively, but they’re really suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
Verywell Mind reports that the line between germaphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder “is not always clear.” Many people worry about germs. But an all-consuming obsession with germs, along with compulsive behavior around washing or disinfecting, can signal a problem. In 1993, a younger Donald Trump told Howard Stern that he washes his hands “as many times as possible” during the day. Trump even conceded, “It could be a psychological problem.”
Next: Donald Trump has another deep-seated fear related to food.
He also fears getting poisoned. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Another big factor leads Donald Trump to choose fast food. Newsweek reports that according to Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the president thinks of fast food as his safest option to avoid getting poisoned. Wolff wrote that Trump has “a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s.” As Wolff noted, Trump’s logic goes that “nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.”
The Guardian reports that thanks to the way Wolff wrote about Trump’s fear of getting poisoned, it clearly “predates his ascension to high office. So it can only have worsened” with the very real stresses and dangers of the presidency. Fortunately, with the Secret Service protecting Trump, any enemy would likely find it difficult to poison him.
Next: Trump’s fear of poison might also strengthen the case about his mental health.
Trump made a lot of new rules for the staff at the residence. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Finally, the biggest reason that Trump continues to eat fast food could be that he doesn’t completely trust the staff at the White House. According to The Huffington Post, Trump’s fear of poison or contagion “led to ‘new rules‘ at the White House that prohibited staffers from touching his toothbrush and other personal items, according to Wolff. It’s not clear if the president believed a specific person or group was out to harm him.”
Trump’s diet seems fueled by several fears. And to be fair, he’s far from the first president to assume office with a phobia or two. He doesn’t seem too afraid of the adverse health effects of high-fat foods. But his doctor is keeping tabs on him — and may even get the president to start an exercise regimen.
Read more: The Secret History of Presidents Who’ve Lied About U.S. Presidents’ Health
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Additional reporting by John Wolfe
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