Trump’s salt and pepper shakers tower over everyone else’s. Obama, Bush, and Clinton used the same size shakers as their guests.

  • When he’s having working lunches or dinners at the White House, President Donald Trump often wields salt and pepper shakers almost twice the size of everyone else’s.
  • This could be another one of his power moves, alongside his fierce handshakes and bulky suits.
  • Photos show Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama using the same size shakers as their White House guests, while Trump’s usually tower over others.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump displays his power with firm handshakes, a second scoop of ice cream, and towering salt and pepper shakers.

Mark Knoller, CBS News’ White House correspondent, pointed out how much bigger Trump’s shakers were in a tweet on Thursday.

Insider combed the photo archives and found that Trump more often than not gets much larger salt and pepper shakers than other foreign leaders or American politicians when dining at the White House. And we couldn’t find instances of Trump’s most recent predecessors using larger shakers than those of their guests.

The large shakers might just be because he enjoys salty foods like KFC chicken, Big Macs, and bacon and eggs. But it could also be another power move, alongside his fierce handshakes and bulky suits.

These photos show how much bigger Trump’s White House salt and pepper shakers usually are than everyone else’s, and how they compare to those of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.


To set the scene, we’ll start with Clinton. It appears he and Vice President Al Gore ate lunch with typical, nondescript salt and pepper shakers.

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Gore and Clinton at a White House meeting.
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Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection / Getty

Condiment equality continued with Bush. In 2005, he seasoned his food with the same size salt and pepper shakers as Condoleezza Rice, his secretary of state.


When Vice President Joe Biden joined Obama for lunch in the private dining room of the White House, the shakers were equal.


But Obama was known for his regimented eating, so maybe bigger salt shakers weren’t a priority.

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Obama and Biden.
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Brendan Smialoski / AFP / Getty

Source: Business Insider


In the one photo we could find of Obama dining in the Cabinet Room — where he and Clinton would usually have coffee or tea, not full meals — he had the same size shakers as his guests.

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Obama and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at a working lunch in the Cabinet Room on August 18, 2009.
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Pete Souza / White House

White House meals changed when Trump became president. When he dined with the emir of Kuwait in the Cabinet Room in September 2017, they reportedly shared a laugh at the expense of the media, but they didn’t share shakers — Trump’s were far larger.

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Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at a luncheon in the Cabinet Room on September 7, 2017, during a visit with Kuwait’s emir.
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Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty

Source: Washington Post


Note the positioning here. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s little shakers float all alone, while Trump’s sizable shakers are positioned right behind his title card.


Trump’s shakers were again larger than everyone else’s when he dined with the United Nations Security Council at the White House in early 2018.

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Everyone else had smaller salt and pepper shakers.
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Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty

The trend continued in March 2018. Even Secretary of Energy Rick Perry got the small shakers.


Let’s get a closer look.


We did find a few instances where Trump had the same size shakers as others. Interestingly, this was in the Cabinet Room, the same room where the shakers have tended to be different sizes.

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Trump, joined by Pence and Cabinet members, at a working luncheon with the emir of Qatar in July in the Cabinet Room.
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Shealah Craighead / White House

Everyone had normal-sized shakers in the Roosevelt Room at a lunch in December 2017 …

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Trump at a lunch meeting with Republican senators in the Roosevelt Room.
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Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty

… and again in the Roosevelt Room in June 2018.

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Trump at a working lunch with US governors in June 2018.
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Win McNamee / Getty

But there were more examples of the president’s larger shakers. In April, Trump met with Baltic leaders at the White House, and he made it clear who was boss.


Trump continued his shaker tradition when he met again with the UN Security Council in late 2019.

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Trump at a luncheon with UN Security Council permanent representatives in the Cabinet Room.
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Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

Trump’s pepper shaker alone dwarfs both shakers for Kelly Craft, the US’s ambassador to the UN.

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Just Trump’s pepper shaker was the size of both of Craft’s shakers.
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Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

There’s one other strange dynamic to this shaker controversy. Note how in this photo everyone’s salt and pepper shakers sit close together, while Trump’s shakers (which are the same size as everyone else’s here) are far apart.

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Trump at a working lunch with governors in the Cabinet Room in June.
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Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

Look at that width.

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Alex Wong/Getty

People might wonder: How much seasoning does a president need? And why are the shakers so eye-catching? Are they intertwined?

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Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

One answer is that it could be another Trump power move — instead of a handshake, now he displays his power with a mighty shake of salt or a spray of black pepper.

Source: Esquire


Or maybe he just feels at ease having a pinch more salt and pepper at the ready.

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Trump gestures while speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden in October 2017.
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Chip Somodevilla / Getty

The White House didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment on the larger salt and pepper shakers, so the world may never know.

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Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty