All the Presidents’ Tables: Dwight D. Eisenhower’s First Inaugural Luncheon, 1953

eisenhower-inauguration-1January 20, 1953

In 1953, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) started the now-traditional ritual of hosting a luncheon for the incoming President and Vice President.

General Eisenhower in Warsaw, 1945
General Eisenhower in Warsaw, 1945

General Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoyed tremendous public recognition because of his role as Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Any man who could keep the troops on target probably could do the same for the country, or so people figured. Under Eisenhower, the U.S. interstate highway system matured, as did the space program.

And so he added president of the United States to his long list of achievements.

eisenhower-1President & Mrs. Eisenhower and fifty additional guests ate the following dishes in the Old Senate Chamber — most sources just list the Creamed Chicken, Potato Puffs, and ham. The Senate Inaugural site lists far more:

Gulf Shrimp
Olives, Radishes, and Tomato Juice
Creamed Chicken in Patty Shell
Baked Sugar-Cured Ham
Cranberry Jelly
Watermelon Pickles
Potato Puffs*
New Peas in Butter
Green Salad
Ice Cream Sundaes
Petit Fours

And to think that the only words of French here are “Petit Fours.” Though since it’s plural, it should read “Petits Fours.”

eisenhower-mamie-inaugural-ball-gownWhen President Eisenhower married his wife Mamie, she couldn’t cook at all. Her only two do-able recipes, fudge and mayonnaise, were hardly the stuff of a well-balanced diet! So it’s a good thing that she became a general’s wife and First Lady — she didn’t have to cook, the servants did. But Ike, surprisingly, considered himself an amateur chef.

However,  he couldn’t resist one of Mamie’s stand-by recipes …


4 ½ cups sugar
Pinch of salt
2 T. butter
1 14-z.can evaporated milk (the original recipe calls for one “tall” can)

Boil 6 minutes to form syrup.

Place all the following ingredients in a large bowl:

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (you can use chips)
12 oz. German sweet chocolate
1 pint marshmallow cream
2 cups walnuts

Pour boiling syrup over ingredients in the bowl. Beat until all chocolate melts. Pour mixture into a lightly greased pan [9 X 12 — size not given in original recipe]. Let fudge stand for a few hours before cutting. Store in old-fashioned air-tight metal tins or plastic containers.

Jim Steinhart
Photo credit: Jim Steinhart

Serves 4

2 c. cold mashed potatoes
1 egg, beaten
3 T. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 c grated Cheddar cheese
fine dry bread crumbs

Combine potatoes, egg, flour, salt, pepper, and cheese. Shape into walnut-sized balls and roll in crumbs. Place potato puffs in a single layer in fry basket (or just use a slotted metal spoon). Fry for 3 minutes or until brown. Lift out of the oil via the basket or slotted spoon and drain. Serve hot. In other words, serve immediately!

© 2008 C. Bertelsen


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