Obama and the Seven Lightly Salted Almonds

In “Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone,” Michael Shear provides an interesting account of how this president works late into the night going through speeches and briefing papers and giving himself time to think. This factoid jumped out at me:

To stay awake, the president does not turn to caffeine. He rarely drinks coffee or tea, and more often has a bottle of water next to him than a soda. His friends say his only snack at night is seven lightly salted almonds.

“Michelle and I would always joke: Not six. Not eight,” [Sam Kass, formerly the Obama family’s personal chef] said. “Always seven almonds.”

That’s a freakish level of personal discipline.  We mere mortals often turn to comfort food when we work late. Certainly, an alcoholic beverage or two might get consumed. Not this guy: only water and almonds.  And not a bowlful. Seven.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jason Sterlace says:

    Discipline? Or OCD?

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Jason Sterlace: Maybe a bit of both. But 23 would be more suggestive of OCD: a specific number but also a decent sized snack. 7 is not only specific but meager.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Somehow or other, this does not surprise me. The man is freakishly self contained.

  4. John says:

    Thank God we have Obama to reign over us mere mortals.

  5. CSK says:

    From a quick Google, the phrase “seven almonds” appears to have multiple meanings. in India, children are given seven almonds soaked in milk or water to promote health. There are blogs titled “seven almonds.” And apparently some teenaged Indian movie-makers call themselves Seven Almonds Films.

    I don’t know what significance this might have for Obama, but if “seven almonds” have any cultural meaning in Indonesia–or a meaning similar to the one in India–it might be a childhood custom he’s clung to.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    I have the same degree of self-control, in fact, even greater because I only consume 4. That’s right, just 4!

    Yes, they’re four whiskies not almonds, but the principle is absolutely the same.

  7. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    To promote your health, I assume.

  8. anjin-san says:

    Pretty much proves he is in bed with ISIS. Only the willfully blind can disagree…

  9. humanoid.panda says:

    This is kinda a joke, but it also a good indication of the kind of hyper-meritocratic culture in which Obama circulates. This, rather than his Indonesian upbringing or whatever is what makes him radically unlike most Americans, for better or worse.

  10. Dazedandconfused says:

    If he were freakishly disciplined he never would have taken up smoking. He’s actually indulging himself, he knows he’s not suppose to be eating any late night snacks at all…

  11. John Peabody says:

    I want to know the names of the first and last he eats. Is it Dopey, Grumpy, or Doc, for instance.