Peanut, Big Mac & Jelly Bean: The Brief Era of Presidential Campaign Snacks

The Presidential Campaign Snack Era: Carter, Reagan, Bush & Clinton.

In the long history of presidential campaigns, it was a relatively brief period, stretching from 1976 to 1992, but during any one of the four elections in that period which saw a new person thrust into the White House, by Election Day each of them had become inextricably linked to one identifiable, easily portable snack food.

Salty, sweet, fattening, or low-calorie, it was no New Deal or Camelot, no New Beginning or Great Society, but rather a delicious moment in time largely forgotten as, “The Presidential Campaign Snack Era.”

A sampling of peanut buttons from Carter’s campaign.

Carter with a crop of peanuts.

Simply by virtue of the fact that the most colorful aspect of Jimmy Carter’s biography was  that he owned a Georgia peanut farm, the media covering him in 1976 rarely failed to associate him with the legume (it isn’t a nut, in fact). Inheriting the property after his father’s 1953 death, Jimmy Carter decided to increase the acreage of peanut crop and peanut seed, which he sold along with a variety of agricultural supplies. The entire enterprise, known as “the Carter Warehouse” proved successful.

Jimmy Carter and his aptly-named campaign plane.

Campaign photographs showing Carter in the fresh air of the open green fields, or shoveling peanuts into a storage container in his warehouse would create a distinct link in the public imagination between the candidate and the “healthy fat” snack which has  the highest protein content of any nut or legume.

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