NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich bit into culinary controversy this week when he turned down a Wisconsin dessert and used a fork to eat pizza in New York.
Kasich’s first food faux pas came on Tuesday, when he declined to try frozen custard at a 65-year-old Milwaukee-area establishment, a week before the Badger State’s primary.
“I have a young, beautiful, smart wife, so I have to stay thin,” Kasich told a couple outside Kopp’s Frozen Custard, in Greenfield, Wisconsin. They told him abstaining from the custard might cost him at the ballot box.
"It’s big in Wisconsin,” Richard Warren, a 58-year-old Glendale, Wisconsin, resident who works in IT and plans to vote for Kasich next week, told the governor. "It might mean votes.” His wife added: "Custard does mean votes.”
It was the first time in recent memory a politician had come to the shop and not tasted the frozen confection, a Kopp's employee told ABC News. Local politicians to presidents make a habit of partaking in local cuisine across the country, from craft beers to famous hamburgers and greasy diner food.
In New York City today, Kasich threw his diet to the wind, finishing off two slices of pizza, part of a third slice and a portion of a sausage dish.
“A man’s got to eat!” he told ABC News, weeks before New Yorkers head to the polls.
The politics of pizza can provide days of fodder for late-night talk-show hosts, as they did when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio used a knife and fork to eat New York pizza two years ago – a major gaffe in the Big Apple.
And today, Kasich followed in his footsteps, ever so briefly using a fork to eat his first bite of pizza at Gino’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, in Queens. He used his hands to eat the rest of his pizza, before donning an apron and serving free slices to patrons.
Pressed on the fork snafu, Kasich defended his technique. “I was eating pizza before you were born!” he said.
At least one of Kasich's competitors has done the same. Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, used utensils when eating pizza in New York's Times Square in 2011.
He called the food exemplary. “I am going to declare this place great!” he said, fist-bumping a restaurant employee. The sausage was awesome! The pizza, great!”