Politicians do everything they can to appear “normal,” although it is not uncommon for attempts at performative normalcy to instead result in very real instances of people seeking elected office disastrously revealing their own deep, personal weirdness. Often, this happens when the politician in question tries to order or eat food in public.
Just today, the world was forced to watch in horror as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon ordered lox, capers, and onions on a cinnamon-raisin bagel. After Gothamist revealed this in a story, it then published a video of the faux pas. (Nixon defended her choice of bagel, telling reporter Jimmy Vielkind, “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it,” an offer that Grub Street, at least, politely declines.)
It is a troubling bagel order, but it is hardly surprising because anytime a politician orders, eats, or talks about food, there is the potential — likeliness? — for catastrophe. Former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney declared this year that his “favorite meat is hot dog.” New York mayor Bill de Blasio ate pizza with a knife and fork. In 2016, while making an annual pilgrimage to eat sausage at the New York State Fair, Governor Cuomo insisted to a female reporter, “I wanna see you eat the whole sausage” (yuck), and this year, he called himself “a sausage aficionado.”
Onetime presidential hopeful John Kasich is another knife-and-forker with the pizza, but his true downfall came when he visited Mike’s Deli in the Bronx and piled a variety of meats, cheeses, and breads into his face as if he were trying to become a living Italian Combo. It cannot be unseen. For every time Joe Biden nails an ice-cream order, there are 100 examples of people like Rick Perry failing to grasp the basic concept of a corn dog and the awkward, disturbing faces Ted Cruz makes when he eats anything.
There is a simple solution: Stop doing this. Politicians of the world, please, know that any photo op at a beloved eating or drinking institution is not worth the risk. There is no upside. Nobody will care if you eat food the right way; we will only care if — no, when — you order something gross, or you demonstrate some weird method you have for holding a sandwich, or you say your favorite meat is “hot dog.” Instead, why not eat food in private where your weird habits will remain under wraps, and we, the voting public, can live on knowing that, for all of the problems our civic leaders have (and there are many), at least they probably know that lox and cream cheese belong on an everything bagel.