Whether we loved history or simply dreaded it, there’s no escaping it. I, for one, love finding pieces of strange historical trivia. It’s so fun to find amazing and bizarre things that have happened in the world that you may be (and most likely are) completely unaware of.
Ever since 1789, the United States has had a President. We all have some basic knowledge about each of them (minus a few, like Grover Cleveland… who’s that?) but we often don’t have the full story. For example, did you know that William Howard Taft was so heavy, he was rumored to have gotten stuck in his bathtub? If we’re being honest, some of our nation’s leaders have had some pretty weird relationships to food. Here are a few of my favorites:
The First American “Foodie”
In 1802, the town of Cheshire, MA presented then-President Thomas Jefferson with a 1235 pound block of cheese. The cheese, known as the Cheshire Mammoth Cheese, was allowed to sit and
stink ripen in the White House for 2 years. If I was one of Jefferson’s advisees, I’d definitely recommend that he try one of these recipes to get rid of all that cheese.
Thomas Jefferson wasn’t only known for that large block of cheese. In fact, he was one of the original “foodies” in US History. Jefferson traveled around Europe and enjoyed what he ate so much that he brought many dishes back to America. At a White House event, TJ served what he called “potatoes served in the French manner,” which are known today as, you guessed it, french fries.
Typical College Student
President John Adams, while attending Harvard, was like any college student – super low on cash. To save money, Adams enjoyed bread and beer each morning for breakfast. Talk about a college diet. But hey, maybe should be adding more beer to your diet.
President William Howard Taft certainly knew that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. He was rumored to have enjoyed a perfectly cooked 12-ounce steak, two oranges, and multiple pieces of buttered toast each morning. This most likely led to Taft’s title as “heaviest US President” – he weighed well over 300 pounds, and it likely also contributed to that time he got stuck in the White House bathtub.
A Very Shiny (Greasy) Head
President Calvin Coolidge would have boiled raw wheat each morning. While he ate it, he allegedly instructed White House staffers to rub Vaseline on his head. His hair was probably super soft, but almost certainly greasy. Maybe he should have put some of these foods in his hair to keep it neat.
No More Soup
President Richard Nixon ended up banning soup from the White House. His exact reasons are unknown, but White House staffer Roger Morris claimed, “He almost invariably dribbled it on himself at the table.” Not to get political, but I think Nixon should have left his personal relations with soup out of this. Why should all White House guests have to suffer? Imagine what they were missing out on… like this broccoli cheddar soup. Definitely a selfish move on Nixon’s part.
Junk Food Fiend
President Ronald Reagan was a lover of all things American, especially deep fried or high-calorie foods. His wife Nancy Reagan did not approve. Whenever the First Lady was out of town, Reagan made like a college student after a long night of partying. He could frequently be found enjoying mac ‘n cheese, pizza, and basically anything unhealthy he could get his hands on. (I guess Nancy never heard of this baked mac ‘n cheese that’s actually healthy.)
The First Lady did allow Reagan to enjoy one of his favorite foods: jelly beans. Right after the President’s inauguration, 3.5 tons of jelly beans were shipped to the White House.