The 2 Presidents Who Loved Chop Suey

A passage from “The Presidents’ Cookbook” posted by Food Timeline states that a particular favorite of Calvin Coolidge (who curiously referred to every meal as “supper”) was chicken chop suey – even though chickens he kept at The White House had an unexpected mint flavor due to being reared on top of a mint bed. Per an excerpt from “Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America” ​​(via the US-China Institute), Coolidge enlisted a Chinese chef to prepare chop suey on the presidential yacht. The recipe included water chestnuts, Chinese rice wine, beans, and Jasmine rice (via The Daily Beast).

Writing in the Journal of Transnational American Studies, Haiming Liu describes President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s love affair with chicken chop suey. He ate it during military service in the 1930s, visiting Sun Chop Suey Restaurant in Washington DC He continued to enjoy the establishment during his presidency. According to an American Heritage piece by Andrew Coe, Eisenhower would also order egg foo young, fried rice, and almond cookies.

Despite its fame, Smithsonian Magazine reports that chop suey has become so mainstream that its popularity has waned. Taste Atlas agrees, saying chop suey has been “over-Americanized,” causing consumers to switch their attention toward traditional Chinese dishes such as Beijing duck and Gong Bao chicken. It seems that not even a presidential pardon could salvage the reputation of chop suey.

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