In 1976, a Tamal Eating Mishap May Have Cost Gerald Ford the Presidency

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Anyone who’s familiar with tamales knows that just like a present, you have to unwrap it to get to the masa-filled goodness. But 40 years ago, when Gerald Ford had what could have been his first tamal, he learned the hard way that the outer corn husk shouldn’t be consumed. During the 1976 election – when Ford sought a second term – he paid San Antonio, Texas a visit. At some point, Ford tried to eat a tamal, corn husk and all. According to then-Mayor Lila Cockrell, Ford “just picked up the plate because if someone had given him the plate, the tamales would not have had the shucks,” she told Chron. “The president didn’t know any better. It was obvious he didn’t get a briefing on the eating of tamales.”

While there was no internet to memeify Ford, the incident became known as “The Great Tamale Incident.” And unfortunately for him, it became all anyone could talk about.

Mike Huckabee, who lived in Texas back then, strongly believes that this incident cost him the presidency. “Every newscast in Texas all weekend long, all they did was show Gerald Ford not knowing how to eat a tamale,” Huckabee told Sporkful. “To this day, I am convinced that it was a gaffe with the tamale that cost him the state of Texas. [Jimmy] Carter won Texas and Carter won the presidency, and it may have been a tamale that did it.”

If only Trump had tried to eat something other than the taco bowl.