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Food Brand Political Contributions

Eating your Politics on the 4th

Which food brands donate to Democrats vs Republicans

The Fourth of July 2021 promises to be a big party throughout the nation. As towns and cities emerge from COVID-19 states of emergency, people are looking for reasons to celebrate and governments are wanting to set off the fireworks in a big way.

This year, when you gather, here’s a guide to how you can make your July 4th BBQ choices shaped by your politics. As a political scientist and the food purveyor in my household, I’ve been interested in choosing businesses that support politicians and political ends that align with my own. Rebooting the now defunct, BuyPartisan App, has been a long dream of mine, but alas other priorities have taken over. In lieu of a creating a fully usable way to make consciously informed political decisions at the grocery store, here is the breakdown of political donations made by companies who produce the hot dogs, veggie dogs and condiments most commonly consumed during this All-American holiday.

Senator Romney enjoys a hot dog (his favorite meat!) in celebration of National Hot Dog Day.

To create the hot dog, veggie dog, and condiment list I found the most sold brands in the US. Next I linked the brands to their parent companies if they were not stand alone companies. Lots of condiment companies are different brands of the same parent company. In all of this set, Unilever, Conagra, Kraft Heinz, McCormick & Company, General Mills and Del Monte own multiple brands.

In order to determine whether a food company gave to Democrats or Republicans more in the 2020 political cycle I turned to Opensecrets.org. Contributions from each company to all federal candidates during 2020 were recorded as well as the split in money going to Democrats versus Republicans. Company/brand contributions are considered those coming from the company directly, a company PAC or from individual company owners for the smaller brands.

There is wide variation in the amounts given. The biggest contributors in the hot dog and condiment world were: 365 Everyday ketchup (Amazon) with a total of $12,759,813, Ball Park and Hillshire Farms (Tyson) hot dogs with a total of $514,505, and Annie’s Organic (General Mills) totaling at $457,196. Many of the smaller brands had no federal political giving reported in 2020. In the graphs below I present the share of federal contributions going to Democrats or Republicans for all companies that gave any federal political campaign monies.

Share of Democratic 2020 Federal Contributions by top Hot Dog/Veggie Dog Brands

In the hot dog and veggie dog realm, most of the major players gave more money to Democrats. Conagra Foods, the parent company of Hebrew National is the only company who gave more of their total $127,624 to Republicans. Ethan Brown, the owner of the non-meat company, Beyond Meat, gave 100% of his donations to Democrats. But his entire federal contributions only included $1000 to Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) — a notable vegan — who ran in the Democratic primary for president.

Share of Democratic 2020 Federal Contributions by top Ketchup Brands

Leading ketchup brands also tended to give more to Democrats. Trader Joes played an even field giving close to 50/50 towards each major party. Like with the dogs, Conagra gave more to Republicans, but the most Republican leaning ketchup brand was Indiana based, Red Gold. McCormick & Company from Maryland gave the largest share of its total $34,557 contribution to Democrats. For mustard there is a similar picture, the leading brands French’s and Zatarain’s from McCormick & Company lead the pack for Democratic giving, while Gulden’s, another Conagra product holds down the Republican side of giving.

Share of Democratic 2020 Federal Contributions by top Mustard Brands

Though not a condiment I can personally get on board with, I was convinced that pickle relish was traditional enough to look into. Here some of the leading brands — Wickles (Sims Foods Inc) and Mt. Olive — were localized and tended to not give to federal campaigns, but of those other brands that did none gave more that 70% of their total political contributions to Democrats and one, B&G Food Enterprises gave nearly all of it’s $60,590 to Republicans.

So there we have it, if you want to have the most Republican leaning cook out on the 4th be sure to pick up some B&G relish, Gulden’s mustard, Red Gold ketchup, and a pack of Hebrew National hot dogs. Looking to celebrate the left? You’ve got more options, but the brands that most consistently supported Democrats in 2020 were Cains Relish, French’s or Zatarains mustards, French’s ketchup and a Beyond Meat veggie dog. No matter how you enjoy the Fourth, I hope have a tasty time.

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3Streams is a blog for anyone interested in the convergence of politics, policy & ideas. It elevates the work of scholars interested in reaching a wider audience on timely topics with novel perspectives. To write for the blog, just leave a message or email 3Streamsblog@gmail.com.

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Lindsey Cormack

Lindsey Cormack

I am an assistant professor of political science and run www.dcinbox.com. I teach at Stevens Institute of Technology and reside on the Upper East Side

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