In a Daily Beast story about DeSantis’ supposedly aloof public persona and tenuous social skills—and how that might factor into the 2024 presidential campaign should DeSantis declare he is running—there was a rather striking anecdote. According to two anonymous sources familiar with the incident, the Daily Beast reported that, in March of 2019, as DeSantis was flying from Tallahassee, Florida, to Washington, he ate a chocolate pudding dessert—using three of his fingers.
That’s right. He ate a chocolate pudding dessert using his fingers. Three of them.
This prompts many questions: Was there not a single available spoon on the airplane? Why use three fingers and not two—or one? Was the urge for chocolate pudding so strong that it couldn’t wait until a spoon could be found? Was it all some kind of practical joke?
Slate tried to put itself in DeSantis’ shoes: You’re sitting down to enjoy a creamy cup of pudding , maybe one swiped from your kid’s lunchbox, and you just really, really want to eat it. But when you pull back the plastic seal, you realize—alas!—there is no spoon in sight. You face a world in which you either a) wait to eat the pudding or b) throw manners to the wind. Personally, I think he could have tried to squeeze the plastic packaging and push the whole glop into his mouth at once. But the squishiness of the packaging of this pudding was not part of the Daily Beast story.
It sounds gross, but luckily for DeSantis, he is joining a long line of nationally ambitious politicians who have been caught eating food weirdly, or whose campaigns have leaked particularly evocative stories of such weird food-eating moments. Of course, there was Amy Klobuchar eating salad with a comb, something Slate has actually attempted (not easy), and Pete Buttigieg chowing down on cinnamon rolls as if they were chicken wings.
Many a politician has also been caught eating a slice of pizza with a fork and knife (New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Donald Trump with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin all come to mind), and there are endless varieties of photos of presidential candidates awkwardly biting into chunks of meat, courtesy of the Iowa State Fair.
Going back further, there was that time John Kerry, currently serving as the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, ordered a cheesesteak with Swiss cheese in Philadelphia while campaigning for president in 2003 (big mistake!) and the time, in 2009, when Barack Obama committed a spiritually similar sin after requesting Dijon mustard for his cheeseburger at a local diner.
Perhaps eating food weirdly should be a prerequisite for—and not just an unofficial hallmark of—entering U.S. politics on the national stage. It’s certainly not relegated to one side of the political aisle.