Presidential Tastes

If the adage “You are what you eat” applied to presidential candidates, Americans would find themselves on Nov. 2 deliberating
By Carol P. Choy

If the adage “You are what you eat” applied to presidential candidates, Americans would find themselves on Nov. 2 deliberating between a six-foot tall tamale and a French-speaking chocolate chip cookie. Each candidate has his own particular food soft spot. John F. Kerry has never flip-flopped on his love for chocolate, and in the 1970s co-founded a bakery in downtown Boston. George W. Bush found within himself weapons of mass consumption when he frequented Mexican restaurants. For any undecided voters, a trip to Boston’s Quincy Market and the local taqueria are in order—when those impassioned speeches just don’t cut it, let your taste buds lead you to the polls.


Forget the Freedom Trail—follow the cookie crumbs to Quincy Market and you’ll find yourself in front of Kilvert & Forbes Bakery. Kerry co-founded this shop in 1976 and ran it until the mid ’80s. While the store has changed ownership twice since then, it still offers the original recipe for Double Chocolate Chunk cookies that Mama Kerry used to bake for little John. The generous amounts of chocolate in the cookie would satisfy even the sweetest tooth. The more adventuresome eater can sample new concoctions, such as the Heath Bar cookies and White Chocolate Chippers, in addition to an assortment of chocolate, fudges, jumbo peanut butter cups, macaroons and congo bars.

Current owners Carol Troxell and Sara Youngelson, who acquired the shop last summer, say the Kerry connection sometimes ropes in international business. “People call from around the world when they find out Kerry’s association with it,” says Youngelson. “He still mentions it during his speeches, when he talks about small business.”

Kerry obviously hasn’t forgotten his baker’s roots. When he came to Faneuil Hall for Rock the Vote last spring, he requested bags of his favorite cookies—Double Chocolate Chunk, of course—to share with the audience. Troxell and Youngelson also stuck close to Kerry during the Democratic National Convention, when they packed bagfuls of cookies and distributed them to the press.

And the presidential connections don’t stop there—Maggie’s Sweets, the umbrella store under which Kilvert & Forbes now runs, also made Bill Clinton’s 48th-birthday ice cream cake. Though the lactose-intolerant former president wasn’t able to enjoy the creation, the Clinton White House staff now knows what it means to eat dessert Kerry-style.


Back in Bush’s B-School days, the now defunct Hillbilly Ranch lounge and bar served as Bush’s home away from home. Located near what is now the Park Plaza Hotel, the restaurant specialized in honky tonk with hybrid blends of country, blues and gospel music. When he wasn’t hitting the books, Bush was often seen partying heartily at the Hillbilly Ranch with his cohorts, presumably over a few Sam Adams.

Back in Cambridge, however, Bush liked to catch his three-for-99-cents pork special on Tuesdays at a local restaurant. Online gossip has it that nowadays, he’d order that with a diet soda and some pralines and cream ice cream for dessert, his supposed favorites.

So if you’re looking to run in 2028, better start popping the Pepcid ACs.