Presidents and Cider: The 2012 Elections

November 6, 2012

In early October, my cider news alert kept being triggered by stories of Ann Romney, wife of Presidential Candidate/Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. On the campaign trail for him, she went to a Michigan sweet cider mill, and the news was covering it.

Of course, the Romneys are Mormon, so I believe they don’t drink at all, so they would have only been dealing with sweet cider. In a post-Prohibition US, elected officials have to be careful regarding how much alcohol they consume. However, Resident Obama has been seen as slightly more pro-homebrewer, even possibly becoming the first president to (have his staff) make beer in the White House.

So before Prohibition, hard cider appeared in the 1840 presidential elections. William Harry Harrison ran as a Whig. He was old, and opponents tried make it seem that he was senile and wouldn’t do any work in the White House. Wikipedia says that one Democratic newspaper wrote, “Give him a barrel of hard cider, and …a pension of two thousand [dollars] a year … and … he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin.” This inspired Harrison to run his log cabin campaign, where he started using log cabins and hard cider in his campaign as symbols. The NNDB writes that hard cider began to be served at campaign meetings. There were bottles made to look like log cabins as well.  Harrison is actually credited with the modern system of campaigning for president, where he went out to people and talked to them to get them to vote (previously, candidates had campaigners and did not personally meet the general population). The result: Turnout was a record 80.2%, up from 58%, and Harrison became the 9th president, though he only served for 32 days before dying of pneumonia.

Harrison showed himself to be an everyday cider man vs his rich wine drinking opponent. The reality was his opponent was born poor and a self made man, and Harrison was born rich who managed to make it seem like he wasn’t.

Of course, I have to mention, even if it is briefly, John Adams. In the fall of 2009, when the cider industry as beginning to formulate, an article was published by The Slate titled “What Would John Adams Drink?” Apparently, the man had a tankard of hard cider every morning with breakfast.

Happy Election Day! Tomorrow is freedom from political ads!

Further Reading:

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