Franklin D. Roosevelt's Favorite Sandwich Was A Humble Classic

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Franklin D. Roosevelt - Library Of Congress/Getty Images

President Franklin D. Roosevelt may have been known for his sophisticated tastes in cocktails (with his favorite being the martini), but when it comes to food and sandwiches in particular, his tastes were decidedly less refined and much more humble -- and his favorite sandwich was a classic grilled cheese.

Despite growing up in an affluent family, FDR served as president during both the Great Depression and World War II, when food shortages and rationing were commonplace across the country. In a bid to have the White House be a model for the country and in solidarity with the general population, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt -- who also grew up wealthy but was not known for her cooking skills in any case -- implemented a decidedly frugal approach to the FDR White House menu, which was known for serving some of the worst food in presidential history. Food was selected for economy and nutrition rather than taste, which explained odd pairings such as deviled eggs with tomato sauce and mashed potatoes. Considering that bread and butter sandwiches were a staple White House lunch during the Great Depression, a grilled cheese sandwich was a downright luxurious treat.

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Simple American Tastes

grilled cheese sandwich close up
grilled cheese sandwich close up - Max Zafiro/Shutterstock

Perhaps, like many Americans who still list the grilled cheese as their favorite sandwich, FDR enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches as a child growing up, and there's a bit of a nostalgia factor going on. According to Henrietta Nesbitt (via the FDR Library), the White House housekeeper during FDR's tenure, FDR enjoyed foods "he could dig into" and had simple tastes in food. He also loved hot dogs — though it's not clear if the FDR White House ever elevated both a grilled cheese and a hot dog by combining them together.

Despite being president, it was unlikely that FDR got to enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches all that frequently, at least while at the White House. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt recalled one of her sons asking if he could pay extra for milk, so cheese would not have been on the menu all that often either — unlike the much more economical sweetbreads that FDR was forced to eat six days a week.

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