Warren Buffett once went to China with Bill Gates — and lived on burgers, fries, and Cherry Coke

    Warren Buffett skipped local cuisine in favor of fast food during his China trip in 1995.

    REUTERS/Rick Wilking

    Warren Buffett’s junk food diet threatened to ruin his trip to China in 1995, a biography explains.Bill Gates and his family made sure the investor was served his favorites: burgers, fries, and soda.Buffett toured a local Coca-Cola plant and rushed to McDonald’s when they arrived in Hong Kong.

    Warren Buffett is a fast-food fanatic who eats McDonald’s for breakfast, munches on See’s Candies, devours Dairy Queen ice cream, and guzzles five cans of Coke daily.

    The investor’s unusual diet meant his 17-day trip to China in 1995 was a terrifying leap out of his culinary comfort zone. Luckily his close friends, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and his then-wife Melinda, went to great lengths to ensure he wouldn’t starve.

    Author Alice Schroeder tells the story of the Berkshire Hathaway CEO’s vacation in her biography of him: “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.”

    Before departing, the Gateses invited Buffett to complete a questionnaire about what he liked to eat. Wary of a repeat of the 15-course sushi dinner he suffered through in 1989, during which he didn’t take a single bite, the billionaire wrote: “I don’t eat any Chinese food. If necessary, serve me rice and I’ll just move it around on my plate, and I’ll go back to my room afterward and eat peanuts.”

    Burgers, fries, and soda

    The first test came when Buffett sat down for a grand Sichuanese dinner in Beijing’s Palace Hotel during his first night in China.

    “Waiters placed course after course on the rotating platters: tea-smoked duck, twice-cooked pork with chili sauce, spicy chicken, and Sichuan hot pot,” Schroeder writes.

    Fortunately for the picky eater at the table, the Gateses had arranged for the tour company to dispatch people beforehand to instruct the hotel’s chefs how to prepare hamburgers and fries.

    “To his delight he was served course after course of his french fries —even for dessert,” Schroeder reported.

    The group went sightseeing the next day. When they stopped at restaurants for lunch and dinner, Buffett was again served burgers and fries while the others chowed down on Chinese food.

    Moreover, on the third day of the trip, when the party summited the Great Wall, Buffett found Cherry Coke waiting for him while the others enjoyed Champagne.

    Warren Buffett enjoying his signature drink.

    Rick Wilking/Reuters

    In between gulps, Buffett cracked a joke about the Wonder of the World beneath his feet: “Boy, I sure would have liked to have been the company that got the brick contract for this thing.”

    True to form, Buffett declined a martial arts lesson the next morning, opting for a tour of the nearest Coca-Cola plant instead.

    Schroeder’s book also said that the touring party later rented Chairman Mao’s personal train and tracked the Old Silk Road through northwest China. They rode camels in the desert, marveled at ancient architecture, observed giant pandas, and saw the Terracotta Army. During a scenic private cruise, Buffett, Gates, and Gates’ dad played bridge.

    The Berkshire chief may well have enjoyed some of the country’s fantastic sights and experiences. But he was clearly hungry for home comforts by the time the tour concluded in Hong Kong.

    “Buffett towed the Gateses straight to McDonald’s to buy hamburgers in the middle of the night,” Schroeder wrote.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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