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Broccoli in Crisis
Do presidents have to eat their broccoli?
Not according to George H.W. Bush. The president famously swore off the vegetable during his presidency.
“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!”
With that declaration, broccoli growers and sellers found themselves in one of the stranger crises to befall a food.
Their response was a lesson in turning a negative quote into a positive story.
All Broccoli Press is Good Broccoli Press
The broccoli growers of California sent truckloads of broccoli to the White House, and the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association presented First Lady Barbara with a broccoli bouquet along with several more tons of the cruciferous vegetables. Most of it was donated to a local food bank.
Broccoli’s 15 minutes of fame drove a 10% increase in sales.
“Broccoli has never enjoyed so much publicity,” one sales director said.
Other brands jumped on the news hook. Campbell’s and Woman’s Day ran a recipe contest titled “How to Get President Bush to Eat Broccoli.” The broccoli buzz even prompted Campbell’s to release a new broccoli cheese soup.
The president’s legacy with broccoli continued long after his presidency. His son George W. Bush even mentioned it in his eulogy for his father in 2018.