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As the U.S. prepares for the 57th presidential inauguration, The Daily Meal decided to take a nostalgic look at past inauguration meals and what presidents have eaten on the big day.
The 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is tasked with planning most presidential inauguration events, dug into its archives and came up with a few gems for us. For example, did you know former President Calvin Coolidge ate pickles for breakfast on his Inauguration Day in 1923?
Eating on Inauguration Day is an integral part of the day’s celebration, and what the presidents have eaten has been as varied as the men themselves.
Some meals have been simple (former President William McKinley ate a corned beef sandwich and a coffee in a Senate committee room in 1897), while some have been more upmarket (former President Benjamin Harrison’s inaugural meal in 1889 featured Blue Point oysters on ice, a pyramid of "Nougat Renaissance," sweetbread pâté à la reine, quail à la Ciceron, pâté de foie gras à la Harrison, and terrine of game à la Morton).
And some have gone better than others: A food fight erupted at Abraham Lincoln’s midnight buffet and a motley crew of well-wishers trashed the White House after Andrew Jackson’s inauguration.
Inauguration lunches have come a long way — in 1789 George Washington ate alone after his swearing-in, and after Thomas Jefferson's swearing-in, he simply walked to his lunch with fellow boarders at Conrad and McMunn’s Boarding House at C Street and New Jersey Avenue.
While the tradition of having an inaugural luncheon is more than a century old, in 1953 former President Dwight D. Eisenhower had the first inaugural luncheon hosted by Congress in the now-restored Old Senate Chamber. On the menu: creamed chicken, baked ham, and potato puffs.
Members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, who are appointed by the vice president and speaker of the house and are currently led by chairman Charles E. Schumer, are tasked with planning President Barack Obama’s sit-down inauguration lunch on Jan. 21.
Modern-day inauguration celebrations have become increasingly grander affairs that begin with a swearing-in on the steps of Capitol Building followed by a patriotic lunch, parade, and numerous evening balls. In our slideshow, take a seat at presidential inauguration meals past and savor a history of presidential first bites.
Lauren Mack is the Special Projects Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.