FOOD FAILS

Glorious photos of world leaders eating badly in public

Shinzo Abe . . . just going for it during a campaign event in Soma, Fukushima prefecture in 2014.
Shinzo Abe . . . just going for it during a campaign event in Soma, Fukushima prefecture in 2014.
Image: Reuters/Issei Kato
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On Monday night (Aug. 1) US presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted a picture of himself enjoying KFC from the comfort of his personal plane. Though he has since been roundly criticized for eating fried chicken with silverware, let’s give him credit for what he did right: posing for the photo on his own terms.

Few traditions seem more clearly designed to humiliate a politician than the public consumption of everyman foods like ice cream, hot dogs and deep-fried anything. It’s a photo-op that makes even the most elite seem down-to-earth, as they struggle to cram unwieldy shapes into their mouths with a show of gusto. For US presidential hopefuls, this awkward charade usually reaches its height at the annual Iowa State Fair:

Michele Bachmann reacts to mustard, as she tries a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair in 2011.
Michele Bachmann reacts to mustard, as she tries a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair in 2011.
Image: Reuters/Daniel Acker

It’s also a global phenomenon. Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott unblinkingly chomped into a raw, unpeeled onion while visiting a farm in Tasmania last year, while the UK’s former Labour leader Ed Miliband made headlines with his bleary-eyed attack on a bacon sandwich in 2014. But there are a few poised exceptions. Good luck finding many photos of Vladimir Putin eating lunch, for example. They’re hard to come by—perhaps by design.

US president Barack Obama and former UK prime minister David Cameron chew as they attend a first-round NCAA basketball game in Dayton, Ohio, in 2012.
US president Barack Obama and former UK prime minister David Cameron chew as they attend a first-round NCAA basketball game in Dayton, Ohio, in 2012.
Image: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
German chancellor Angela Merkel, right, struggles with a piece of cheese at an agricultural fair in Berlin in 2013.
German chancellor Angela Merkel, right, struggles with a piece of cheese at an agricultural fair in Berlin in 2013.
Image: AP Photo/Michael Sohn
Former US president George W. Bush lunges for frozen custard in Minnesota in 2006.
Former US president George W. Bush lunges for frozen custard in Minnesota in 2006.
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Donald Trumps handles the whipped cream on his hot chocolate with care, at Chez-Vauchon restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire in February, 2016.
Donald Trumps handles the whipped cream on his hot chocolate with care, at Chez-Vauchon restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire in February, 2016.
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking
US president Barack Obama unconvincingly approaches a shaved ice in Kailua, Hawaii in 2015.
US president Barack Obama unconvincingly approaches a shaved ice in Kailua, Hawaii in 2015.
Image: Reuters/Gary Cameron
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy devours a churro in Malaga in 2015.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy devours a churro in Malaga in 2015.
Image: Reuters/Jon Nazca
On the other hand… US vice president Joe Biden had his ice cream flavors locked down while campaigning in Pennsylvania in 2008.
On the other hand… US vice president Joe Biden had his ice cream flavors locked down while campaigning in Pennsylvania in 2008.
Image: Reuters/Jim Young
And Putin looks, but never touches, during a dinner outside Moscow in 2011.
And Putin looks, but never touches, during a dinner outside Moscow in 2011.
Image: Reuters/Misha Japaridze/Pool