Remembering the Great Tamale Incident of 1976 that may have cost Gerald Ford the presidency

There's no shortage of presidential food gaffs. Vice President Quayle famously misspelled "potato" in front of sixth graders in 1992, and Mayor Pete pigged out at the 2019 Iowa State Fair. Hillary Clinton, in a radio interview, said she carries around hot sauce in her bag everywhere she goes. More recently, Donald Trump criticized opponent John Kasich's consumption of pancakes when he said, "I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion… This guy takes a pancake and he's shoving it in his mouth… "Do you want that for your president? I don't think so."

One of the most memorable, though, is Gerald Ford's ambitious bite into the husk of a tamale. President Gerald Ford and Governor Jimmy Carter were head-to-head on the campaign trail, and Ford made a campaign stop in San Antonio. Things went even further south when he bit a tamale with the corn husk still on.

The media pounced. Mike Huckabee described the optics of the event to Sporkful

"Every newscast in Texas all weekend long, all they did was show Gerald Ford not knowing how to eat a tamale. To this day I am convinced that it was that gaffe with the tamale that cost him the state of Texas. Carter won Texas and Carter won the presidency, and it may have been a tamale that did it."

From Sporkful

San Antonio then-Mayor Lila Cockrell told the Houston Chronicle that she thought Ford "just picked up the plate because if someone had given him the plate, the tamales would not have had the shucks… He didn't know any better. It was obvious he didn't get a briefing on the eating of tamales."