As we quickly approach Election Day next week, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the chocolate connections of the Republican and Democratic parties’ presidential nominees. The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, used chocolate as a key ingredient in a cookie recipe which has proved successful in Family Circle’s presidential cookie competition. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, has literally put his name on an eye-catching chocolate bar available at some of his properties and gift shops.
The cookie bake off actualy got its start in 1992 becasue of Hillary Clinton. During the campaign preceding Bill Clinton’s election to the presidency, Ms. Clinton commented that she had not wanted to “stay home and bake cookies” after her husband had been elected Governor of Arkansas. Some found her remark to be dissmissive of female homemakers, who, by implication, did have time to bake cookies. As oftens happens in politics, a bit of a furor erupted, and the home magazine Family Circle saw the opportunity to propose a friendly baking competitiion between the presidential nominees’ spouses. Clinton gamely provided a recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies which beat out Barbara Bush’s plain chocolate chip cookie recipe. The bake off was reprised in 1996 when President Clinton was campaigning for re-election; Ms. Clinton provided the same recipe as four years prior and again triumphed, this time over Elizabeth Dole’s pecan roll cookies.
In fact, Family Circle’s presidential cookie compeittion, run today as an online poll, has proved to be a bellwether, accurately predicting the presidential race results five out of six times since 1992. (Michelle Obama’s lemon and orange shortbread cookies failed to best Cindy McCain’s oatmeal-butterscotch cookies in 2008.) Of interest to us chocolate-lovers here at Captain Jackson’s, six out of the now seven winning cookie recipes also featured chocolate, the outlier again dating to the 2008 poll. The competition has also shifted in tone over the years, from a more jocular response to a particular political moment, to a seriously-taken tradition with the sense that it goes back to Martha Washington. (We have previously shared a recipe for Martha Washington’s Chocolate Cakes, though as far as we’re aware, she never used it in competition!) There are also criticisms that the cookie competition is “blatanly sexist,” arguing that the furor that initally sparked the bake off was, in essense, a form of reprimanding Ms. Clinton for having professional aspirations outside of homemaking. Nevertheless, the baking poll returned this election cycle, and Ms. Clinton’s recipe returned, as well. Bill Clinton submitted the same recipe as his wife first did twenty-four years ago, rebranding it as the “Clinton Family’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.” The tried-and-true cookie recipe succeeded for the third time, beating out Melania Trump’s star cookies.
Though Ms. Trump’s cookies did not include chocolate (a factor that may have decreased her competitive edge considering previous poll winners), Donald Trump does have a connection to chocolate. Over his career, Mr. Trump has dabbled in a variety of different industries and produced a broad range of Trump-branded products, including chocolate bars (photo credit: Ilona Gaynor). These ingot-styled chocolate bars have been around for at least five years, and when reviewed by CNN Money in 2011, came in the varieties of milk, dark, and deluxe nut bars packaged as gold, silver, and copper ingots. According to the chocolate expert consulted by CNN, the milk chocolate had the best flavor and consistency of the three, though was steeply priced, even compared to “the Mercedes of chocolate,” Valrhona.
The Trump chocolate bars are available today at Trump properties, such as Trump Tower in New York City, though it appears the deluxe nut bar is now almond. In a July 2015 video, Tami and Kevin Dunn, fans of The Celebrity Apprentice, review the golden Trump milk chocolate bars that they had recived as souvenir gifts from a friend who had recently visited NYC. They described the bar as “very good” and found it less sweet than the standard Hershey’s milk chocolate bar. They thought the Trump bar was much more comparable to chocolate that they had tried from England. As a result, Ms. Dunn was suprised to note that the wrapper indicated the bars were made by DeBrand Fine Chocolates in Indiana.
Though we don’t yet know whether Family Circle once again predicted the successful nominee, we do know that the next POTUS will join George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Kennedy, and Barack Obama as a president with a chocolate connection!