Food has played a starring role in the lives of so many famous or infamous people. Diplomatic agreements have been negotiated over elaborate feasts, novels have been fueled by strong coffee, and marriages have ended over a meal gone bad.

In What the Great Ate, brothers Matthew and Mark Jacob have cooked up a bountiful sampling of the peculiar culinary likes, dislikes, habits, and attitudes of famous — and often notorious — figures throughout history.

In this photo from the 1920s, First Lady Grace Coolidge samples a cookie that was made by a Girl Scout troop in New York State.  President Calvin Coolidge made derisive comments about his wife's kitchen skills.

Rube Waddell was one of baseball's outstanding pitchers during the early 1900s.  But he had a habit that greatly aggravated his catcher and roommate — eating animal crackers in bed.  The team's owner got Waddell to sign a contract in which the pitcher agreed to cease this annoying habit.

Buy the Book!


  • "... a smorgasbord of amusing tidbits on the favorite foods of prominent artists, scientists, sports stars and, yes, politicos."
  • The Washington Post
  • "... many fascinating facts" CBS News' Health Blog
  • An "amusing grab-bag of food-related anecdotes"
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • "... an impressive catalogue of food-related tales about the world's most famous people." New York Daily News
  • "Brims with fun-filled anecdotes ..." Andrew W. Smith, Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink
  • "This is a fascinating read." Jeff Houck, The Tampa Tribune

  • "... a good helping of the book's pleasure comes from the cognitive dissonance of the 'great' eating, well, the small. Does it trivialize the president to learn that Ronald Reagan was a lover of jelly beans?" The New Yorker
  • "... one of the most enjoyable, enlightening, informative and, frankly, simply fun books." Rick Kogan, Chicago's WGN radio
  • One of "17 Food-Themed Books You'll Want to Eat Up"
  • More magazine
  • The Jacob brothers "must've mucked through skyscraper-size piles of research materials to put together this book."  Philadelphia City Paper
  • Named one of 13 "Books on Foodies' Beach Blankets" for the summer. 
  • Publishers Weekly
  • "This is one book I had a hard time putting down."
  • Food editor, Winston-Salem (NC) Journal
  • "... it was with gusto that I devoured [this] book ..."
  • The Montreal Gazette
  • The book is "one that I'm certain you will enjoy sharing with your friends and family."  Around the Horn, a baseball blog
  • "It's a book to nibble on, not consume all at once, but will provide plenty of curiosities with which you can fascinate friends."
  • Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union
  • "There are enough interesting stories in here to spark many good dinner party conversations."
  • The Calgary Herald
  • "This book has a massive collection of amusing food trivia ..."
  • ifood, a web portal
  • "... on our list of must reads"
  • "Let's Just Talk," WQRT radio in Cincinnati
  • "... a book that's full of fun food facts, trivia and other tidbits ..."
  • The Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN)
  • "This looks like an interesting book."
  • A "delicious book"
  • Francophilia Gazette
Enter a State of Foodphoria
Foodphoria is the Weblog written by co-author Matthew Jacob. Foodphoria offers Matthew's irreverent, no-nonsense commentary on eating, drinking and dining. Click here to visit the blog.
10 Things You Might Not Know...
... about beer, France and lots of other things. Click here to read samples of the Chicago Tribune's "10 Things You Might Not Know ..." series, which is written by co-author Mark Jacob.
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Rhubarbs, Taters, and Cans of Corn

Baseball slang can make you hungry, especially if there are rhubarbs (arguments), taters (home runs), or cans of corn (easy-to-catch fly balls). In honor of baseball’s upcoming All-Star Game, here are fascinating facts about great players and grub:

  • Pitcher Satchel Paige’s dining advice included: “Avoid fried meats, which angry up the blood.” He also advised that “if your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.”
  • At a Boston hotel, Ted Williams ordered breakfast from room service and used a stopwatch to track delivery time.
  • Joe DiMaggio hustled after fly balls –- and just as aggressively fielded the check while dining with New York Yankees teammates. If they tried to pay their share, DiMaggio slapped their hands away. “When you eat with the Dago,” he said, “the Dago pays.”
  • A candy bar was named for Ken Griffey Jr., but he couldn’t eat it. He’s allergic to chocolate.
  • During an era when it was common for players to share a bed while on the road, pitcher Rube Waddell’s roommate was Ossie Schreckengost. And Schreckengost wouldn’t sign his contract with the team unless Waddell’s contract forbade the pitcher from eating animal crackers in bed.
  • On hot summer days, pitcher Dizzy Dean tried to fry eggs on the dugout roof.
  • Wade Boggs believed that eating chicken before a game improved his performance. He and his wife Debbie wrote a chicken cookbook called Fowl Tips.
  • During a road trip in San Diego, Roberto Clemente left a restaurant with fried chicken. A car pulled up, and an armed man ordered him into the vehicle. The robbers made him strip to his underwear, and took his wallet and All-Star Game ring. After Clemente told them who he was, they returned his wallet, ring and clothes, then let him out of the car and drove off. But the car returned moments later, and Clemente feared they would kill him after all. Instead, they handed him his box of fried chicken. 

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