Maybe politicians saw John Kerry’s infamous Swiss cheese order at Pat’s and feared they’d make the same gaffe. Maybe they saw the protesters circling Scott Walker outside of Geno’s with the sign “Scott Walker lives inside my butt” and wanted to avoid the crowds.
Either way, cheesesteaks and political candidates just don’t seem to go along anymore. The AP published a story yesterday about how the Philly cheesesteak is “a test for candidates, not just a lunch.” But that’s not quite true. Candidates aren’t bothering to take the test.
Not like they used to.
The cheesesteak campaign stop used to be a staple for political candidates. Usually, they’d go to Pat’s or Geno’s. Barack Obama went to Pat’s in April 2008 and ordered one with whiz. George W. Bush stopped by in 2004 and did the same.
In 1992, Bill Clinton pulled off a master feat. He stopped at Geno’s for an appearance and didn’t piss off Pat’s because his campaign dined there the night before. In 2008, Hillary Clinton ordered a chicken cheesesteak at Boccella’s in Conshohocken on primary day.
She hasn’t had a public cheesesteak appearance this year. In fact, none of the remaining presidential candidates have made it to Pat’s, Geno’s or any cheesesteak restaurant as part of a campaign appearance. Walker was the only one. The other major races have largely been cheesesteak-free, too.
The Philadelphia diner seems to be the new choice. John Kasich went to the Penrose Diner in South Philly yesterday morning (where he asked a little girl for a “snuggle”). A month before Obama got elected in 2008, he went to the Mayfair Diner.
Katie McGinty was at the Mayfair Diner yesterday with Joe Biden and Senator Bob Casey. Later in the day, she went to the Diner Car. She’s been to diners all over the state, from Pamela’s P&G Diner to Scranton’s Glider Diner.
“There is like this kind of quaintness to a diner,” says Sabrina Singh, McGinty’s spokeswoman, “and they serve people of all walks of life.”
Cheesesteaks are available at many diners, of course, but it certainly seems like the candidates aren’t eating them there. Yesterday, the Inquirer’s Julia Terruso asked Bernie Sanders whether he’d had a cheesesteak. His answer? Not yet.
So what did Sanders do today? He went to Reading Terminal Market, home to several eateries that sell cheesesteaks. And he opted for a pretzel.