Running for president can be grueling, to say the least. But one major perk (or, perhaps, curse) for any candidate with a fondness for food is the tour of local cuisines that comes with a national campaign.
While New Hampshire — land of diners, seafood, and the nation’s first primary — isn’t known as a culinary hotbed, it’s no food desert, either.
Below, a guide to following in their footsteps — if not professionally, at least gastronomically:
We begin with the candidate who has dominated the primary, yet has made sparing retail stops in New Hampshire: Donald Trump.
However, the Republican frontrunner did make the most of his first Granite State diner experience, settling in at the iconic Red Arrow Diner in Manchester for an indulgent lunch befitting of the billionaire celebrity.
Trump reportedly ordered the Red Arrow’s “Newton Burger,’’ a burger topped with fried mac and cheese and cheese sauce, between two grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns, with fries and a Diet Coke. He did not finish the meal.
In honor of the political season, the diner has renamed the burger “Healthcare.gov.’’ Other Red Arrow primary specials include “Government Grits-Lock,’’ a chicken-fried steak topped with sausage gravy with grits and hash browns, and “The Pork Barrel,’’ a slice of pork pie topped with a poached egg and hollandaise.
Trump is hardly the only candidate to take a liking to New Hampshire’s fare.
Hillary Clinton’s favorite New Hampshire order betrays her veteran experience campaigning in the state. According to campaign spokeswoman Julie McClain, the former secretary of state is a particular fan of the Puritan Backroom’s famous chicken tenders, which themselves are an electoral cornerstone.
But Clinton also has a lesser-known favorite dish from earlier this summer, when she made an unscheduled stop at the Northland Restaurant and Dairy Bar in Berlin and sampled the restaurant’s raspberry and blueberry pies with a local state senator and some staffers. Clinton “really enjoyed’’ it, McClain said.
According to spokesman Matt Sheaff, Martin O’Malley (who has since dropped out of the race) is also a fan of the Puritan Backroom — though he opts for their steak tips — as well as Manchester’s Blake’s Restaurant and Ice Cream. The Maryland governor’s wife and kids also “loved’’ the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market — but foodies will have to wait until May for that to reopen.
Back on the Republican side, Ohio Gov. John Kasich “generally loves fried clams and chowder,’’ campaign spokesman Chris Schrimpf said, particularly from the Rye seafood restaurant, Petey’s. It’s a good choice considering the oceanside seafood restaurant recently won awards for both the state’s best fried clams and clam chowder.
“That place had the greatest mushroom and barley soup I’ve had in a long time,’’ he reportedly told a town hall later that day.
Marco Rubio is a fan of milkshakes (also known as frappes) from the Airport Diner in Manchester, ice cream from Bailey’s Bubble off the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, and clam chowder along the Seacoast, according to campaign spokesman Michael Zona.
Zona said the Florida senator has also grown accustomed to another, more prosaic New England staple: blueberry cake donuts and “countless coffees’’ from Dunkin’ Donuts.
The former governor enjoyed a lobster roll last summer at Brown’s Lobster Pound in Seabrook and a slice of homemade blueberry pie at a “Politics and Pies’’ event in Concord, telling the surround press gaggle “To Hell with the diet.’’
Because ultimately, who needs the presidency when you can have pie?