The Pizza Dish on 2012

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Can any food compete with pizza as the signature dish of the GOP presidential primary? We think not.

Every presidential campaign cycle has its breakout foods.

Bill Clinton's love of McDonald's earned him a mocking SNL skit before he was even inaugurated, and provided the fast food company with "with millions of dollars in free publicity" in 1992, according to Advertising Age.

In 2003, the mighty Philadelphia cheesesteak became a problem for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D), when he ordered one with swiss instead of Cheez Whiz during a campaign stop, eliciting gasps from locals and prompting accusations of elitism.

Obama has a brief arugula issue in 2007, when he asked a group of Iowa farmers, during a discussion of how increased store prices are trickling down to them, "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?"

Now, as the Republican presidential primary heats up, it's already clear that if the 2012 contest is going to have a signature food, that food will be pizza.

It's not just that one candidate is a former pizza magnate (Herman Cain) and another (Mitt Romney) boasts of his time as a pizza company turnaround man. Candidates like Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich have turned to the humble pizza pie over the years as they've grasped for political metaphors and looked for ways to show their connection to regular Joes and Janes.

Below, some other pizza moments from the 2012 campaign -- and a ranking of how tied each candidate is to the quintessential dish of the political cycle (with 5 being the most connected and zero being the least):

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Chris Danello is a producer at The Atlantic.com.

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