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The U.S. president who hated 'the vegetable of the '80s'

Broccoli had been a trendy vegetable during the 1980s, but that didn't matter to U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

U.S. President George H.W. Bush publicly revealed his dislike of broccoli in 1990

In 1990, The National reports on the broccoli-hating food preferences of U.S. President George H.W. Bush. 1:26

It had been trendy during the 1980s, but that didn't matter to U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

"I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it," the president told reporters in March 1990, after it was revealed he'd ordered his chefs not to serve him the vegetable.

The laughter of reporters made it sound as if he was delivering a one-liner in a sitcom of the era.

"And I'm president of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli."

Maybe the president wasn't going to be eating any broccoli, but 10,000 pounds of the stuff were being delivered to his house.

It was a publicity stunt by broccoli growers, who arranged to have the produce delivered to the White House — though it would actually be distributed to local charities.

A hardline position on broccoli

First Lady Barbara Bush predicted her husband U.S. President George H.W. Bush would never eat broccoli. (The National/CBC Archives)

"Millie and I thank you for the broccoli, we'll eat it," said First Lady Barbara Bush, referring to the couple's dog. "I'm going to tell you the honest truth: The president is never going to eat broccoli."

The CBC's Terry Milewski provided a bit more context to Bush's hardline position on broccoli.

"The president, who is a junk-food addict, is out of the mainstream on this one," Milewski told viewers on March 26, 1990, the day the broccoli was dropped off in Washington.

"His own agriculture department decrees broccoli to be the vegetable of the '80s, when it seems consumption doubled."

Looking at the broader political implications, Milewski said "this cautious president, who has had little to say lately about Lithuania, taxes or the defence budget, has found a way to get on the news for a change."

The CBC's Terry Milewski explained how U.S. President George H.W. Bush's view on broccoli had put him back in the news in March of 1990. (The National/CBC Archives)