George H.W. Bush was obsessive about his hatred of broccoli

Monday, November 15, 2021

Today I Learned About George H.W. Bush was obsessive about his hatred of broccoli, he mentioned it 70 times during his presidency, banned it from the White House, and blamed the extinction of the dinosaurs on it.

George H. W. Bush broccoli comments

George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, mentioned his distaste for broccoli a number of times. The first mention of broccoli during Bush's presidency was in March 1990, when he made a joke that the workers in the Office of Personnel Management would get merit pay "in broccoli". Shortly after, a journalist from U.S. News & World Report broke a story that Bush had banned the vegetable from Air Force One. In response, the broccoli-growers of America pledged to send a number of trucks of the vegetable to the White House.

When asked if he'd lost the "broccoli vote" because of his comments, Bush made the following casual remark about the vegetable outside the White House in an exchange with reporters:

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 gonna eat any more broccoli! ... For the broccoli vote out there, Barbara loves broccoli. She's tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So, she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that's coming in from Washington.

— George H. W. Bush

George S. Dunlop, President of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, gave First Lady Barbara Bush a bouquet of broccoli and an additional ten tons of the vegetable in trucks.[5][6] A few days afterwards, Bush hosted a state dinner to honour Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Prime Minister of Poland, and journalists noted there was no broccoli on the menu, as most of the broccoli given to the president's family by the farmers had been donated to the Capital Area Food Bank.


Analysis shows that Bush mentioned his hatred of the vegetable 70 times while he was in public office. His speech on broccoli was seen as out of touch with most Americans; Broccoli was becoming more popular in the United States, and had been seen as the "vegetable of the 80s".

Bush's anti-broccoli comments did not go down well with the farming community of the US and opened up a nationwide debate on Bush's eating habits, in particular his fondness for unhealthy foods such as beef jerky, as well as his ungallant eating habits. Many parents, who were trying to get their children to eat vegetables, were enraged at the president's comments. His thyroid condition (later announced to be Graves' disease) led many Americans to write to the President saying that he should have eaten more broccoli because of its health benefits.

It was seen, alongside his later vomiting incident (during which he vomited on the Prime Minister of Japan, Kiichi Miyazawa, after a bout of the 24-hour flu), as an example of one of Bush's tendency for political gaffes.


Even when he vacated the office of President, Bush talked about his dislike of broccoli on Twitter.[16] In 1992, Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore – wives of the Democratic candidate's Bill Clinton and Al Gore – ran on a "Let's put broccoli in the White House again" campaign.

In 2001, George H. W. Bush's son, 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush, almost caused a diplomatic incident after he gave a thumbs-down to broccoli on a state visit to Mexico; Mexico's President at the time, Vicente Fox, was a keen broccoli-grower and owned a substantial broccoli farm in the country.

'The broccoli argument' became a symbol for those opposed to healthcare reform in the United States proposed by Barack Obama, as an example of forcing the American public to purchase something they find distasteful because of its beneficial nature. The first example of this usage was in a 2009 CNS News column titled "Can Obama and Congress Order You to Buy Broccoli?". The 'broccoli argument' was referenced by former conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in his anti-Obamacare summation of 2012, who said: "Everybody has to buy food sooner or later. Therefore, you can make people buy broccoli."

44th President of the United States Barack Obama announced in 2013 that his favorite vegetable was broccoli at an anti-obesity event for children. These remarks were immediately compared to those of George H. W. Bush and ABC News's Liz Neporent said that broccoli "has long been a political vegetable". However, many questioned the veracity of his comments; Comedy Central tweeted "Obama tells kid journalist his favorite food is broccoli. And his favorite activity is lying to children". He had also been seen eating junk food, burgers, and hot dogs throughout the campaign trail.

George W. Bush mentioned his father's dislike of broccoli in a eulogy at his 2018 funeral.

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