Reggie Love, the former walk-on basketball player at Duke University who went on to become team captain, is out with a new book Feb. 3 called “Power Forward: My Presidential Education” that relates some of his experiences as President Obama’s long-time traveling companion and “body man.” I did not have an opportunity to read the book prior to publication, but reviews by those who did contain one story that got my attention. Eight years ago while campaigning in Iowa, then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) actually ate a Maid-Rite loose-meat sandwich. My mind immediately went to the question raised by Love’s dramatic disclosure: Where in Iowa was Obama when he consumed said Maid-Rite? Love apparently does not share the location in his “tell-some” book. (To be fair, Love is said to have written more of a coming-of-age book, not one that spreads a lot of gossip about his time hanging around the Oval.) Let me explain. Iowans love what they call loose-meat sandwiches. I know from having lived there briefly during my reckless youth. I favor the independent options, especially Bob’s Drive-In at the intersection of U.S. 75 and Iowa 3 in LeMars. Maid-Rite is a Des Moines-based fast casual chain of more than 40 restaurants, mostly in Iowa, where the first opened in 1926. Love accurately calls the original Maid-Rite sandwich “a heap of coarsely boiled ground beef bigger than your average Chihuahua that is served spilling out of a platter-sized fluffy white bun.” Love does disclose some of the president’s personal likes and dislikes, and it seems that his former boss gets downright queasy over fatty foods such as those Maid-Rite sandwiches. But Obama decided to go where Hillary Clinton had never gone before by downing a Maid-Rite before a crowd of enthusiastic Iowans. “For months after, I would tease the senator with, ‘Man, I cannot believe you ate that sandwich.’ And he would smile and say, ‘Nobody can ever say I didn’t want to win,’” recalls Love. It’s important to know where the future president was when he ate that sandwich because, at the time, Iowa’s best-known Maid-Rite — Taylor’s in Marshalltown — was using an original cooking vessel with a design flaw that caused cross-contamination. Other Maid-Rites had eliminated the problem with updates at the behest of several other state health departments. But Taylor’s Maid-Rite in Marshalltown, often visited by prospective presidential candidates, continued to operate with the original cooking vessel under a grandfather clause-like waiver from former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, now Secretary of Agriculture. The waiver was withdrawn, and using the old cooking vessel gave Taylor’s Maid-Rite a red violation on their inspection reports. It would take five years, as they pursued both legislative and administrative relief, before Taylor’s Maid-Rite was brought into compliance using an insert and divider to prevent cross-contamination. Before the corrections, anyone served with a Maid-Rite sandwich from Taylor’s could have been exposed to, in the words of the inspectors, “Raw animal foods not adequately separated from precooked or ready-to-eat foods.” For the record, Taylor’s claims its food has never made anyone sick during the more than 80 years it’s been in business. Later in 2007, closer to the infamous 2008 Iowa caucuses, then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) did visit Taylor’s Maid-Rite in Marshalltown with Christie Vilsack and Ruth Harkin, the spouses of Iowa’s former governor and senior U.S. senator, respectively. The trio were part of a Clinton campaign group that dined at the restaurant, ringing up a $157 tab. However, it not really known whether Clinton downed a loose-meat sandwich during the visit. The only thing notable about that visit was the dispute afterward over whether the Clinton party left a tip. A waitress told National Public Radio they did not, while a manager the next day told ABC News that the Clinton party left $100, but it “might not have been distributed very well.” It appears that Taylor’s Maid-Rite never put the future, or current, president at risk during his many campaign trips to Iowa. Food Safety News found pictures of a spring 2007 visit that Obama made to a Maid-Rite in Newton, IA, 38 miles south of Marshalltown. One picture shows Obama sitting at the counter between two Iowa men, dining on a Maid-Rite loose-meat sandwich. Out of camera range, Love was probably already having a good laugh.