Nowadays more is known about our public figures then ever before. This is both a blessing and a curse, but mostly a curse. Its hard to imagine how todays over active and over assumptive press corps would have handled some of this information about Presidential eating habits. Yes, there once was a time when the President's decision on what to eat was less of a campaign statment and more of a personal one.
Well known for his love of wine, the chief author of our most famous documents also loved fruits and veggies. Thomas Jefferson once ate a tomato in public to prove it was not poisonous. Not because there was fear of an assassination, because the early US colonists and citizens thought they were poisonous. He also lived chiefly on vegetables, and described meat as merely a decoration. Makes you wonder what he would think of livestock subsidies today.
When most of us think of Ike outside of the presidency, we mostly focus on his prestigious military leadership career. President Eisenhower may have been a General's General, but he was also quite comfortable ordering a fine meal. Celebrated also for his cooking, his best dishes were vegetable soup, cornmeal pancakes, and steak.
If you've ever quit or avoided a diet due to the food choices consider this, John Adams had boiled cornmeal pudding served before meals to help curb his appetite. It didn't seem to help. Insiders around Washington nicknamed him "His Rotundity," referring to both his weight and his sense of self-importance.
Appreciated around the country for his ability to communicate his political agenda, Ronald Reagan was also a jelly bean enthusiast. While holding the office of Governor of California, Reagan was supplied with a 20-pound a month supply of jellybeans by the Rowland family of future Jelly Belly fame. Reagan originally began eating them to help him quit smoking. However, jellybeans have an addictive quality of their own, and it was of little surprise that once he became President, jellybeans were found in the oval office, cabinet meetings, and even Air Force One. 40 million jellybeans were consumed by his inaugural parties alone! Jelly Belly even donated 7,000 pounds of red, white, and blue beans for his 1981 inauguration, inventing the blueberry Jelly Belly just for the occasion. None of their other beans had quite the right hue. Go on, chew one for the Gipper.
President James Buchanan loved 3 things at his dinner parties. Sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and whiskey. It leads one to wonder if his high tolerance for alcohol developed as a way to ignore the complaints of his guests over his choice of menu. Although widely loved foods, too much of anything can wear out someone's taste buds.
Remembered as a poor president by many, its nice to know Jimmy Carter would have had a supporter in George Washington. One of Washington's favorite dishes was cream of peanut soup. Carter's peanut farming background was so tied up in his persona, that his 1976 slogan was "Not Just Peanuts." Washington was also known to love two other foods which are still considered specialties today, crabmeat soup and eggnog.
Having a hard time finding a regular breakfast food? Why not try a cucumber soaked in vinegar? Ulysses S. Grant's favorite breakfast was probably followed up by a cigar and a drink. A notorious alcoholic famous for chewing cigars constantly when not smoking them, Grant ate one of those premature pickles almost everyday he was in office. Grapefruit's starting to sound better and better, eh?
Although a wealthy man, President Lyndon Baines Johnson was also a man of simple tastes. His southwestern palette was quite pleased by canned green peas and tapioca. He also shared a love for sweet potato casserole with toasted marshmallows with Presidents Hoover, FDR, and Eisenhower.
One president more recently created a sensation for his dislike of a food. President George HW Bush said in his own words, "I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli." Angry advocates of the dark green vegetable sent bushels of the stuff from around the country, but the President stuck to his guns. No new veggies.
There you have it. Great men of power and influence consuming, or not consuming, normal, and somewhat less than normal, foods. Go ahead, make those weird nachos you've been craving, try some of your Aunt's strange soup. Take a page from the first President Bush, turn something down. You're in good company, the former leaders of the free world say its ok to let your pursuit of happiness start on your plate.