A (Very) Brief History of Politicians Eating Pizza With a Knife and Fork

John Kasich
John Kasich now knows better than to eat pizza with a fork when cameras are around, but he can't hide from his past. Reuters

John Kasich ate plenty during his recent smorgaborg across New York City. At Mike's Deli in the Bronx, he had two plates of spaghetti, a huge sandwich and apparently several other dishes. As you do in New York, he also stopped to grab a slice of pizza, but then made the unfortunate decision to eat that slice of pizza with a knife and fork.

"Look, look, the pizza came scalding hot, OK? And so I use a little fork," he explained on Good Morning America the next day. "You know what? My wife who is on spring break with my daughters said, 'I'm proud of you. You finally learned how to use a utensil properly.' But I mean, not only did I eat the pizza, I had the hot sausage. It was fantastic."

Kasich is clearly uncomfortable here, dragging his wife into it and then quickly trying to steer the conversation toward the hot sausage. On Thursday night, Kasich appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers and, again, his pizza faux pas came into focus. In fact, Kasich brought it up himself in a desperate attempt to repair the damage to his image done by that pronged utensiil.

"You heard about the pizza, right?" he asked Meyers, a little too eagerly. "God, you know...It was so hot...I made a terrible mistake. I picked up a fork..."

He threw up his hands in shame.

"You know...It was so hot," he continued. "When I was in college I had 15 roommates. You think we waited for the pizza to cool?"

Very weak, Kasich. You are a pizza-forker. There is no going back now.

But John Kasich isn't the first politician to commit the most egregious of dining miscues. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio was caught knifing and forking a slice days after his term began in January 2014, an inexcusable gaffe from someone who is supposed to represent what is perhaps the world's most famous pizza city. De Blasio wasn't as repentent as Kasich, but his excuse was just as dubious. "In my ancestral homeland, it's more typical to eat with a fork and knife," he told reporters, adding that the slice "had a lot on it."

Not only did de Blasio's tenure begin with such pretentious breach of etiquette, he did it again a few months later while vacationing in Naples, Italy. This instance was excusable considering he was actually in Italy, but it also made clear that January's incident was not an anomoly. The mayor of New York simply prefers to eat pizza with a knife and fork, regardless of if a slice "has a lot on it" or not.

On Monday, a poll found that de Blasio's approval rating is at an all-time low, with only 35 percent of New Yorkers deeming the job he has been doing as "excellent" or "very good." Now, are we saying that de Blasio's low favorablility among the people he presides over is directly related to the abhorrent way in which he eats his city's signature dish? No, but we're also not not saying that.

The original celebrity-slash-politician to be caught eating pizza with a fork was—surprise, surprise—Donald Trump, who dined at Famiglia Pizzera in Times Square with Sarah Palin in 2011. Both used a plastic fork and knife to eat their slice. Though deserving of criticism because he is a New Yorker and should know better, Trump's aversion to greasy fingers shouldn't come as a surprise. He is and always has been the elitists' elitist. If he were a character in Seinfeld, he would have been one to hobknob with Elaine's boss Mr. Pitt, who was known for eating his Snickers bars with a knife and fork.

And yet, in all liklihood, the hard-working pizza lovers of New York will vote for this fork-wielding monster in the state's upcoming primary. Trump's lower- and middle-class supporters seem to think he is one of them, that he has their needs in mind while other politicians cater to lobbyists and special interests. This is far from the truth, and if it's not apparent through his policies or his billions of dollars or how he has conducted himself for the past 30 years, just invite him to have a slice of pizza.