White House Thanksgiving Traditions Slideshow


1897: President McKinley


In 1897, Ida McKinley kept it simple for her family, sticking with a "petite" 26-pound turkey from Rhode Island with oyster stuffing, new potatoes, cranberry sauce, celery, and both mincemeat and pumpkin pie. Not too shabby for a simple meal.

1949: President Truman

Wikicommons/Abbie Rowe/Harry S Truman Presidential LIbrary

President Truman accepted the first presidential turkey in 1947, just two years before the image at left was taken. So what did he do with the bird there in front of him? Eat it, of course. We hope he wasn't on the same diet that he was on during Thanksgiving 1946, when he was watching his weight. Instead of digging right into the roast beast with all the fixings, the president started the meal with clear bouillon and curled celery and olives. Diet aside, though, he somehow saved room for pie.

1961: President Kennedy

Wikicommons/Whitehouse.gov/JFK Presidential Library

It was the year that a president first pardoned a bird —  specifically, the 55-pound white turkey, at left. While that animal lived, there was another later enjoyed by 33 members of the Kennedy clan at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., along with tomato soup, cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes, hot buttered rolls, an assortment of pies and vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream.

1995: President Clinton


Thanksgiving is all about indulgence, so is it any surprise that Clinton and his family dined on a bacon-wrapped bird at their 1995 feast at Camp David? Probably not (though now we know why he ended up in the hospital with clogged arteries). Along with the turkey, the Clintons dined on the president's mother's cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and other favorites from the family's days in the Arkansas Governor's Mansion. Rounding out the meal were black cherry and cold fruit salads, and three kinds of pie. We just hope he burned a lot of that off with a couple of rounds of golf with the in-laws, like he did in 1998, despite the bitter cold weather.

2006: President George W. Bush

Wikicommons/Paul Morse/Whitehouse.gov

In 2006, rather than heading home to his Crawford, Texas, ranch, the president and his family headed to Camp David to give his Secret Service team and staff a break. But no holds were barred when it came to the feast. The family dined on a free-range turkey, cast-iron skillet cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, zucchini gratin, whipped maple sweet potatoes, basil chive red-potato mash, clover rolls with honey butter and then, if there was still room for dessert there were two kinds of pie, fruit, and a pumpkin mousse trifle.

2008: President George W. Bush

Wikicommons/Joyce N. Boghosian/whitehouse.gov

Two years later, and it's readily apparent that the Bush family is set in their Thanksgiving ways. Most of the menu was the same, save for the addition of a Morelia-style gazpacho with a spinach salad. So how does this Mexican gazpacho of Morelia differ from the classic Andalusian tomato version? It includes a fine dice of jicama, pineapple, mango, and sometimes cantaloupe. Sounds delicious.

2009: President Obama

Wikicommons/Lawrence Jackson/Executive Office of the USA President

In 2009, Obama nearly ended the longstanding tradition of revealing the Thanksgiving menu, initially only sharing that traditional foods and family favorites would be served, said ABC News. Yet, they later divulged the menu: turkey, honey-baked ham, cornbread and oyster stuffing, greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. Of course, dessert featured a selection of six pies — sweet potato mpkin being the president's favorite, reported the Riverfront Times .

2010: President Obama

Green Heritage

President Obama is one for tradition, feasting on the same, all-American menu as the prior year, save for a regular ham as opposed to a honey-baked one, said the New York Times. You can even try your hand at making the Obamas' beloved sweet potato pie yourself, with this recipe. Do you think you can top chef Bill Yosses' reputation as the crust master, though?

1942: President Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR Library

Typical Thanksgiving spreads often include foods inspired by the harvest — pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, wild rice, sweet potatoes, and chestnut stuffing. But clam cocktail, clear soup, Spanish corn, sausages and beans, and grapefruit salad? Quite unexpected, but apparently it is just what FDR wanted.