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Friday, February 27, 2015

A feast fit for a king...or president

     So Professor Bob was sitting at home earlier watching The Trailer Park Boys. There is an episode that reminded  me of a historical story. So you can thank Canadian TV for this one.

     In the entire history of the Presidency there has only been one occasion where a President became a widower and remarried while in office. That President was Woodrow Wilson. Wilson's first wife Ellen passed in 1914 during his first term after battling Brights Disease which caused renal failure. Wilson met a woman the next spring named Edith Bolling Galt, herself a widow. After approximately nine months of courtship, the two were wed in December 1915.

    The secret courtship and fast wedding on the heels of the death of Ellen Wilson made for harsh gossip in Washington. Rumors were abound that the two had been engaged in an affair while Ellen Wilson was still alive and that the president and the widow Galt killed the first lady to get her out of the way so they could be married. Eventually, the new Mrs. Wilson would be pivotal to the second term and indeed the survival of the Wilson administration. In 1919 the president had a massive stroke and was essentially bedridden for the final two years of his presidency. The first lady stepped in as the one keeping the executive branch running during this time, bringing only the most crucial matters to the president. However, all of this is well known in the textbooks. What you may not know is this...

   The man who catered that wedding during the winter of 1915 has a face we all would recognize. Even now, 100 years later in 2015 we see him in many places. That man we know as Chef Boyardee. Yes, the man on the cans of ravioli, spaghetti, and other various pre-packaged foods was the head chef at the presidential wedding. He was born Ettore Boiardi. When he catered that wedding he was a young man of only 18 but was well known as a fine Italian chef despite only being in the USA for a year. When the president welcomed home some 2,000 soldiers back from World War One in 1919, he hired Ettore to cater that meal as well. By 1929, the demand for his food inspired him sell his canned sauces and recipes under the Chef Boy-ar-dee brand. By the time he stepped down and sold controlling interest of his company following the Second World War, he was worth millions and had received accolades from many Allied governments(including the Order of Lenin from the USSR).

   So next time you dive into a microwaved bowl of canned ravioli....you may have some appreciation for what a great immigrant success story Chef Boyardee was. You may also find yourself hoping the Chef Boyardee President Wilson had at his wedding was more appetizing than the Chef Boyardee you are eating.

 

Mister and Mrs Wilson(2.0)

Here is a posed photo after Wilson's massive stroke circa 1920. The President was paralyzed on his left side so Edith holds the paper for him to sign. This was done to assure the public that the now reclusive president was still alive and "well"

You usually see the older image of this man on the cans, but here he is as a younger man in the 30's/40's

An early picture of the Chef holding one of his Spaghetti Dinner boxed meals that sold millions during his tenure as head of the Chef Boy-ar-dee brand. He would later sell the company but continue to do commercials and ads until the 60's

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