President Obama and cheeseburgers: A love story

This post has been updated - see #7.

President Obama made yet another trip to a burger joint Friday, taking four employees on a Washington construction project to Shake Shack.

Obama and Vice President Biden used the appearance to tout something they traveled the country discussing all week: the need to increase investment in America's often crumbling infrastructure, a move that would create jobs, alleviate commute times and boost the economy.

But the trip underscored something else: Obama really loves cheeseburgers.


U.S. President Barack Obama, second from right, eats a hamburger and fries with members of his staff  at the Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill in Washington, August 3, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Despite the White House's emphasis on healthy eating and Obama's assertion that his favorite food is broccoli (I mean, really), Obama has a habit of taking people out for burgers and fries. Often that person is Biden. Just two guys grabbing some burgers, right? Obama suggested that he might have a burger for his 50th birthday in 2011. A blogger apparently nicknamed named him "President Obeef" because of his well-documented penchant for cheeseburgers. Michelle Obama also sometimes ditches the healthy eating and, like the rest of us, splurges on fast food.

Let's take a look at some of the places Obama has eaten burgers in the past few years.

1. Ray's Hell Burger

In 2010, Obama took Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Ray's Hell Burger, a DC-area institution that claims it is "nice and greasy, steak and cheesy." Obama put in the order -- a burger with cheddar, sauteed onions, lettuce and tomato for Obama and one with cheddar, hot peppers, sauteed onions and mushrooms for Medvedev. "We're gonna turn him on to a real American burger," Obama said.

Biden and Obama chowed down at Ray's in 2009. They stood in line (well the line kind of dissipates when you're the president), ordered at the counter. Obama paid in cash, leaving a $5 tip. Nice of the boss to pick up lunch. Sadly, this Ray's location shut down in 2013, but another is still open should Obama again want to truck out to Virginia.

2. Shake Shack

Friday's noontime visit to the Shake Shack on Connecticut Avenue NW in Washington wasn't Obama's first foray to the chain founded by New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, which now boasts 34 locations worldwide.

In addition to his infrastructure remarks, Obama got in a plug for his push to raise the minimum wage, saying the White House chose Shake Shack because it has "great burgers and pays its employees more than 10 bucks an hour." Obama ate a burger and fries, Biden a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake.


President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden meet with local workers, including Meredith Upchurch, at the Dupont Circle location of restaurant chain Shake Shack in Washington. (EPA/Alex Wong / POOL )

 

Even First Lady Michelle Obama, she of  the "Let's Move" campaign, has confessed her "obsession with french fries." She visited the DC Shake Shack when it first opened, ordering the chain's signature ShackBurger -- a cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and top-secret "ShackSauce," which has been described as a mix of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and spices, along with fries, a milkshake and a Diet Coke (side note: why does everyone order a Diet Coke when splurging on burgers?) Total calories: about 1,700. But as Michelle Obama has oh so accurately said: "splurging is the key to life" when you normally exercise and eat well.

3. Five Guys

The Obama family/Five Guys love affair hit its peak in 2009.

"I went to Five Guys and nobody knew it," Michelle Obama said in a 2009 interview, recalling how she sometimes snuck out of the White House outside the prying eyes of the press. "It was good."

So good, in fact, that the First Lady took about eight members of her staff to lunch at a Five Guys in Washington. She ate a cheeseburger. 

President Obama also treated his staff to Five Guys and, even better, he went out to pick it up and bring it back to the office. Obama took advantage of the fact that Five Guys gives eaters the option of putting jalapenos on their burger.

 

4. Good Stuff Eatery 

In 2011 Obama passed up a chance that few of us have: ordering a burger that has been named after you. Foregoing a rather delicious-sounding concoction of a patty, applewood bacon, Roquefort cheese and horseradish mayo at Good Stuff Eatery in D.C., Obama opted for his usual: a plain old cheeseburger.

5. Ted's Bulletin

A week later, Obama treated a group of six community organizers to lunch at the Capitol Hill outpost of the D.C. restaurant Ted's Bulletin, where Obama ordered a cheeseburger and fries. And of course he had to try the all-American eatery's homemade Pop-Tarts, which defy words.

6. OMG! Burgers

You know the deal: you're on the road, you're tired, you want something greasy and delicious. Obama popped into the now-shuttered OMG! Burgers in Miami in 2012 after a speech at the University of Miami. By now you can guess what he ordered: a cheeseburger.  

7. Air Force One

Big thanks to a reader who alerted us to this video. On his first ride on Air Force One - from Chicago to his inauguration - Obama is given a dinner menu. "I'll see how you guys do a burger. Make it medium-well," he said. He also asked for cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, lettuce and tomato and a salad on the side. Obama was then asked if the salad meant he didn't want fries. "Oh, I'll still take the fries," Obama said.

And of course someone spliced together clips of Obama and hamburgers, added French subtitles and house music and posted it on the Internet.

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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