David Stokes

It wasn’t as big of a deal as, say, an Air Force One fly over, but it was the talk of the town – and the rest of the universe, apparently - the other day when Barack Obama and Joe Biden ventured beyond the walls of the White House on a quest for ground red meat. And, in just about the biggest scoop since the whole Bill Clinton “boxers or briefs” inquiry, information was skillfully gleaned by the media in abundant attendance indicating that POTUS and VPOTUS fundamentally disagree on a matter of concern to all Americans.

Joe likes ketchup on his burger. Barack likes mustard. And not just plain old yellow mustard. No sir, he likes the good stuff - the brown and spicy stuff. As the president of the United States ordered his “regular” bacon cheeseburger at Ray’s Hell-Burger in an Arlington, Virginia strip-mall, he asked for it “medium well” and with mustard. In fact, he asked for Grey Poupon.

Part of the Dijon family of mustards (that’s French, for any conspiracy theorists out there), and made with a brown Canadian-born seed, with just a splash of white wine, Grey Poupon became a household name in the 1980s via the success of its television commercial. The spot featured one Rolls Royce pulling up alongside another, and then the famous question: “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon.”

The question quickly went viral across America as something of a cute, pompous, somewhat pretentious, and very snooty tag line. Now, if George W. or his Daddy had asked for it – that would have been the big story at Ray’s Hell-Burger. But alas, the idea of the two big guys hanging out with regular folks at a burger joint was too cool to complicate with anything that didn’t fit the desired picture.

And that burger “joint” – well, it’s not exactly a glorified White Castle or Steak and Shake – or even a Five Guys, it’s a spot where you can drop up to $17.50 on a burger. You can get yours with foie gras, bordalaise sauce, and even white truffle oil.

Just like Mickey D’s, right?

It turns out that maybe the cool “let’s-show-them-we-are-just-like-them” adventure was at least a little flawed, but you’d never know it by the news coverage. The New York Times featured it, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, and other usual suspects, as well. The story even got a lot of play internationally.


David Stokes

David R. Stokes is a best-selling author, pastor, columnist, and broadcaster. His latest book is a novel: CAPITOL LIMITED: A Story about John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Based on a true story, it's about a unique moment in 1947, when Kennedy and Nixon shared