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Over two centuries ago, our founding fathers were creating the United States of America. Every year we celebrate our nation and its creation on the Fourth of July. 

On this holiday, we honor our founding fathers by grilling up some good food, making fun red, white, and blue decorations, and spending time with friends and family. So while we eat our burgers and ribs, we look back to the men who created our country and their culinary preferences.

Times were much different when our founding fathers lived. They cooked over open wood fires, and often had farms of their own where they got their produce. They didn’t have supermarkets and convection ovens. Food was simpler for them, and a lot of the founding fathers had easy-to-please palates. Then again, Thomas Jefferson was known for his culinary adventurousness. Culinary historian Karen Hess described Jefferson as “our only epicurean president.” He was an avid gardener, and trained his kitchen staff in French cooking techniques.

Our nation’s founders had a deep love for food, just like us. Washington had his cherries and Benjamin Franklin was a particular fan of turkey. Whether they preferred simple meals or more elaborate dishes, eating was a big part of their lives. After all, they spent a lot of their time navigating politics and drafting important documents. They must have been exhausted after a day full of that. We took a look into what kinds of foods our founding fathers ate.

  • 1. Cherries

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    Everyone knows the myth about George Washington and the cherry tree, but did you know that he actually had a cherry orchard on his property? Both he and Thomas Jefferson cultivated cherry trees on their land.

  • 2. Green Beans

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    Almost all of our founding fathers lived on large farms. Thomas Jefferson, in particular, had a deep love for farming and he published many books about it. In his Garden Book, he mentioned planting green beans often.

  • 3. Turkey

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    We all associate turkey as a classic American food. After all, what’s Thanksgiving without a big, juicy turkey on the table? And it seems that the founding fathers agreed with us. Benjamin Franklin loved turkey so much that he suggested it should be our national symbol. The bald eagle won that fight, but turkey is still popular today.

  • 4. Oysters

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    Seafood in general was popular amongst the founding fathers. Most of them spent a lot of their working lives near large bodies of water. Even though they enjoyed all seafood, oysters were by far their favorites. Martha Washington, our first First Lady, included many recipes for oysters in her cookbook.

  • 5. Cornmeal Cakes

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    It’s common knowledge that George Washington had dental issues. For most of his life he wore dentures, so he often couldn’t chew foods properly. Because of this, he preferred soft, easy-to-eat foods. Cornmeal cake was one of his favorites.

    See more foods our Founding Fathers enjoyed back in the day.

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