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.

Entries in diet (3)


The Food That Fuels Phelps

Star swimmer Michael Phelps has had a productive Olympics, adding new medals to those he won in the Beijing four years ago.  A champion athlete has to monitor his diet closely, but Phelps’ eating habits were not so strict during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.  Although he built his diet around pizza and pasta, Phelps managed to win six gold medals.

After Phelps made history at the 2008 Olympics, a British newspaper reported that the “secret” to the swimmer’s success was his 12,000-calorie-a-day diet.  But Phelps called that calorie count an exaggeration, saying that he consumed between 8,000 to 10,000 calories each day — a range that’s still about four times the caloric intake recommended for a typical adult male.


Why Is This Man Frowning?

Because his diet is not fit for a doctor.  Dr. Conrad Murray, the cardiologist convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop singing star Michael Jackson, is subsisting on a strange diet while serving his four-year prison sentence.  According to News One, Dr. Murray has complained about prison conditions, including the food.  Instead of eating the prison's standard fare, the physician is purchasing what he calls "cat food" from the prison's commissary — canned tuna, salmon flakes and canned mackerel.


When a Sex Symbol Slips Up

Raquel Welch turns 70 today. Her book “Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage” offers healthy lifestyle advice without getting preachy. Diet discipline is important, she writes, but “if you should sneak in a ‘side’ of fries, or maybe a piece of chocolate cake, don’t beat yourself up over it.” She also admits: “I’ve been known to eat an entire homemade apple pie at a single sitting.”