You might have looked at President Donald Trump's now-viral fast food feast for the Clemson University Tigers’ White House visit and, like we did, asked yourself: Where are the tacos?
In case you missed it Monday night (but truly, how could you have missed what Trump claimed was a “mile-high” monument to processed beef patties), the White House fed the national college football champs a smorgasbord of McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Domino’s. The photos proved hotter on social media than a vat of sizzling fryer oil. Trump first claimed that 300 hamburgers sat on the State Dining Room table, and he later upped that to 1,000. The latter figure proved to be a whopper, according to a Washington Post analysis; the former is a little closer to the mark, if you count Filet-O-Fish and chicken sandwiches as burgers. You shouldn’t, but you could. The Post estimated the cost of the meal at $2,911.44, after using photos to tally the amount of each kind of food in the spread.
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But Team 360 got to wondering: If the Texas Longhorns made a championship visit to the White House instead — please stop convulsively laughing, it’s unsettling — what kind of welcome would a trough of Chicken McNuggets be? Texans love Texan things. In other words, this spread needs a little more Whataburger.
Inspired by the Post, we did our own definitely in-depth, definitely-not-just-sketched-out-with-markers-on-top-of-a-filing-cabinet estimate of how much a comparable fast food feast would cost, if the menu items were all sourced from Texas- or Austin-based businesses.
A couple notes on methodology, if you can call it that: We tried to only include fast food or fast casual brands (so no Hyde Park Bar & Grill French fries). We tried to pick foods that best corresponded to the actual White House menu items: burgers for burgers. We did make a couple editorial judgement calls, too. Whataburger is a little more heavily represented on our hypothetical table, because you’ve got to give the people what they want. We didn’t include the cost of sauces, since the Post didn’t — the cream gravy comes with the Whataburger chicken strips, and we’ll just say the Tacodeli Doña sauce was leftover from a previous order. Also, for want of a truly iconic Texas fast food fish sandwich, we treated the Filet-O-Fish slot as a wild card and served up Whataburger’s honey butter chicken biscuits instead.
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Here’s what’s on our Trump-inspired junk food banquet table, including price estimates:
100 large orders of fries from Whataburger at $2.09 each: $209
100 orders of fries (one size) from Mighty Fine at $2.59 each: $259
100 Trailer Park tacos (trashy style) from Torchy’s Tacos at $3.95 each: $395
72 medium hamburgers from Dan’s Hamburgers at $3.59 each: $258.48
60 chicken sandwiches from Flyrite at $4.99 each: $299.40
50 hamburgers from P. Terry’s at $2.60 each: $130
25 veggie burgers from P. Terry’s at $3.95 each: $98.75
46 Whataburger honey butter chicken biscuits at $2.59 each: $119.14
36 orders of Whataburger chicken strips at $3.89 each: $140.04
11 salads from Thundercloud Subs at $4.59 each: $50.49
4 pies (2 pepperoni & mushroom, 2 Margherita) from Home Slice Pizza at $23 each: $92
Total estimated cost: $2,051.30
So, there you have it: It’s more affordable to feed a college football team when you keep your menu Austin weird. However, it must be noted that the individual item prices in the Post’s analysis are pretty steep. Peep that double burger from Wendy’s with an almost $7 Washington, D.C., price tag.
One thing is indisputable: The tacos are priceless.
Features editor Sharon Chapman, bridge editor Chloe Gonzales and senior editor Andy Alford contributed to this report.