Last week, the top stories on every single cable news network involved the just-opened impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, the allegations that he asked the president of Ukraine to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden, and the declassification of the whistleblower complaint that brought all this to everyone's attention. But over on FOX News' morning show Fox & Friends, hosts Janice Dean, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade were blissfully covering National Pancake Day and taking a few on-camera bites from a fat stack of IHOP's new gluten-friendly pancakes.
"When I go into IHOP I'm always amazed, I'm always amazed about the way we're coming up with different ways of flavoring syrup,” Kilmeade gushed. “I mean, just, you thought a lot of sugar and sap and just putting a funnel in a tree was enough. But now, there's blueberries!"
The fact that the Fox & Friends hosts decided to turn their collective heads away from the latest Trumptroversy isn't surprising, but the "gluten-free-friendly" part totally is; that seems to be the kind of "snowflake cuisine" oft ridiculed on right-leaning talk shows. But according to a recently published study, Donald Trump supporters are more likely to avoid gluten than non-supporters are. Yeah, we're shook, too.
In their paper, " Gluten aversion is not limited to the political left," Dr. Trey Malone and Dr. F. Bailey Norwood investigate how a person's political opinions might relate to (or even shape) their opinions about food products. "If an avoidance of gluten is a biological condition and not a social construct, there should be no correlation between political opinions and gluten avoidance," they wrote. "Our study uncovers a complex relationship between the social construction of gluten avoidance and the potential role of political views."
To begin their research, they conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 Americans, asking them about their political preferences, about their parents' political preferences, and about their attitudes toward gluten. They were also given a list of four presidents—Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton—and were asked which of them they viewed "most favorably."
In the gluten-related section of the survey, the participants denoted how strongly they agreed or disagreed with four statements about their health as it relates to gluten, including whether or not they believed themselves to be sensitive to gluten, or whether they felt noticeably worse when they ate foods that contain gluten.
Overall, all of the groups—regardless of political affiliation or presidential preference—tended to "somewhat disagreed" with the assessment that they were sensitive to gluten, but they were also likely to believe that avoiding gluten is part of maintaining their overall health, and they believed that they could improve their health by avoiding gluten in foods.
When it came to the question about supporting a U.S. president, 20% of those surveyed indicated that they favored Trump over the other three, and 40% responded that they either voted for him in the 2016 Presidential election or that they would have… if they'd actually voted at all.
"Our findings suggest that, on average, politically liberal Americans are not more likely to exhibit an avoidance of gluten, although there is some connection between gluten avoidance and having liberal parents," the authors wrote. "More surprisingly, Donald Trump supporters tend to be more likely than non-supporters to avoid gluten."
But, they also wrote that both a person's political affiliation and their feelings toward gluten are shaped by "a complex combination of life events," and even the individuals themselves might not know exactly how or why they made those associations.
"We don't actually know why a liberal, a Trump supporter, or a conservative would become gluten-avoidant," Dr. Norwood told VICE in an email. "I would say that people who are gluten-avoidant do not even know fully why they are gluten-avoidant, as we are all influenced by a myriad of factors when it comes to issues like these. What our paper does look at [is] correlations between political affiliation and gluten-avoidance; we can't really say why that correlation exists."
In the paper, the authors suggested that because Trump-era conservatives tend to distrust "conventional institutions" like vaccines, various government agencies, and, say, a certain former president's long-form birth certificate, they might be equally wary of conventional agriculture. "Perhaps supporting Trump and being averse to gluten is a sign of general discontent: with modern politics, modern food and modern life," they wrote. "It may have little to do with food or politics specifically but much to do with life in general. Alternatively, it could have everything to do with politics and food. Supporters of Trump may be wishing to push back against the entrenched special interests seeming to dominate politics."
Regardless, they do believe that additional research might be worthwhile. And, depending on what those future studies might reveal, FOX News may or may not decide to mention them. Those gluten-friendly pancakes aren't going to eat themselves.