Reagan Cake 615.jpg
Ronald and Nancy Reagan cutting their wedding cake (March 4, 1952)

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As the old adage says, "You are what you eat," and it's true that our favorite culinary indulgences, whether a familiar dish from home or a fast food habit we can't quite kick, say a lot about us. Fortunately, our individual preferences are not for public consumption or criticism. 

When you're the leader of the free world however, you don't get let off the hook so easily--even your snacks are subject to press scrutiny. Welcome to the world of presidential food history. The past 236 years have witnessed many memorable culinary moments in the lives of America's presidents, from Thanksgiving turkey pardons to anti-broccoli outbursts. It turns out that the timeline of presidential food history varies as widely as the men themselves. Ready to dig in?  

1863 - Abraham Lincoln declared the first Thanksgiving and, when his son became fond of the turkey brought in for the meal, issued the first animal-based Presidential pardon. 

1939 - To celebrate the historic state visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth - the first time a reigning British monarch had ever set foot on American soil - Franklin D. Roosevelt threw a garden party, and decided to serve hot dogs.  The move shocked conservative Brits but inspired American acceptance of a monarchy popularly seen as impotent and prissy. (Allegedly the king wanted to eat like an American so he used his hands.) The moment was memorialized in the film Hyde Park on Hudson, released last year. 

1963 - John F. Kennedy gave one of the most famous speeches of his career in Berlin, ending on a note of solidarity with Berliners by saying, "Ich bin ein Berliner (I am a citizen of Berlin)." The line was later (and incorrectly) confused with similar verbiage that said, "I am a jelly donut."

1969-1974 - President Nixon was a pioneering advocate for fresh, protein-based breakfasts, as exemplified by his insatiable love for yogurt--specifically California yogurt, which he had flown in to the White House every day.

1976 - In what became known as "The Great Tamale Incident," President Gerald Ford tried to eat a tamale that was still wrapped in its corn husk sheath. To make matters worse, the gaffe took place during a tour of Texas' iconic Alamo. 

1981 - In addition to his reputation as "The Great Communicator," Ronald Regan was also famous for his love of jelly beans. In fact, the White House had three-and-a-half tons of Jelly Bellies shipped in for the 1981 Inaugural festivities. The company's blueberry flavor is rumored to have been specially developed for the inauguration so that there would be red, white and blue jelly beans.  

1990 - President George H.W. Bush put executive authority to curious use at a press conference with a surprising declaration: "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." 

June 1992 - During a visit to a New Jersey elementary school, Dan Quayle led a spelling bee and corrected a young student's correct spelling of potato, insisting that the student add an "e" to the end of the word. Of the infamous "potatoe" incident, Former Vice President Quayle later said in his memoir: "It was a defining moment of the worst kind imaginable."

November 1992 - During the final days of his '92 campaign, Bill Clinton famously ended a jog by stopping at MacDonald's. Ultimately, his enthusiasm for fast-food earned him a feature on Saturday Night Live and quadruple bypass surgery in 2004. He is now experimenting with vegan eating.

2002 - While watching Monday Night Football, George W. Bush choked on a pretzel, briefly lost consciousness, fell, and injured his face. Those pretzels were likely part of his favorite snack, Tex-Mex Chex, a combination of Chex, hot sauce, pretzels, pistachios and pepitas prepared for him by the White House's executive chef.

2009 - First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on the largest vegetable garden ever to occupy the White House lawn. The garden remains part of her healthy food initiative, which emphasizes fresh-grown produce in place of sugary and highly processed snacks.