Did Ben Franklin actually make any tofu?

Did Ben Franklin actually make any tofu?

It is well documented that Franklin was interested in tofu, which he called a sort of cheese made from beans, and he got a recipe for making it that he sent on to others. But no source that I have found gives any reason to believe he or any of the others ever made any tofu. Does anyone here know of evidence on the question?


Probably not. It's impossible to prove a negative like this, so this answer is necessarily inferential.

Let's start by looking at Franklin's letter:

Benjamin Franklin to John Bartram London, Jan. 11, 1770.

My ever dear Friend:

I received your kind letter of Nov. 29, with the parcel of seeds, for which I am greatly obliged to you. I cannot make you adequate returns, in kind; but I send you… Chinese Garavances, with Father Navarretta's account of the universal use of a cheese made of them, in China, which so excited my curiosity, that I caused inquiry to be made of Mr. Flint, who lived many years there, in what manner the cheese was made; and I send you his answer. I have since learnt, that some runnings of salt (I suppose runnet) is put into water, when the meal is in it, to turn to curds.

I think we have Garavances with us; but I know not whether they are the same with these, which actually came from China, and are what the Tau-fu is made of. They are said to be of great increase.

In the bolded passage, Franklin reveals that he has not successfully grown anything from the soybean seeds he has forwarded along. He calls them "Chinese Garavances," and says he doesn't know whether they differ from ordinary Garavances. This means he thinks soybeans are like chickpeas/garbanzo beans (though to be fair, he doesn't seem familiar with chickpeas either). But when he says that soybeans "are said to be of great increase," this implies a lack of firsthand experience with growing soybeans. No soybeans, no tofu.

He also implies a lack of experience with making tofu when he writes "some runnings of salt (I suppose runnet) is put into water." This is Franklin's sole commentary on the tofu recipe, which he otherwise forwarded to his friend unaltered. Franklin writes more authoritatively when describing recipes for dishes he probably has made (e.g. "Bite of a Mad Dog").

If you follow the link above, you can read the original recipe from James Flint. Flint also implies that he has never tried to make tofu himself: "The method the Chinese convert Callivances into Towfu. They first steep the Grain in warm water ten or twelve Hours to soften a little, that it may grind easily… Then they stir up the flower & put the Water over the Fire just for it to simmer… This is the process as I always understood."

So Franklin is playing a game of telephone with tofu recipes.

Also note that Franklin makes no mention of tofu's taste. In his other writings on food, he does mention taste:

We have an Infinity of Flowers, from which, by the voluntary Labour of Bees, Honey is extracted, for our Advantage.… Bread and Honey is pleasant and wholesome Eating. 'Tis a Sweet that does not hurt the Teeth. How many fine Setts might be saved; and what an infinite Quantity of Tooth Ach avoided! (B. Franklin, Poor Richard Improved, 1765)

And on maize:

the Ears boil'd in their Leaves, and eaten with Butter are also good and agreeable Food. The green tender Grains dried, may be kept all the Year, and mix'd with green Haricots also dried, make at any time a pleasing Dish. (B. Franklin, On Mayz, ca. April 1785, unpublished)

And on American cuisine in general:

“Pray let me, an American, inform the gentleman, who seems ignorant of the matter, that Indian corn, take it for all in all, is one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world; that its green leaves roasted are a delicacy beyond expression; that samp, hominy, succotash, and nokehock, made of it, are so many pleasing varieties; and that johny or hoecake, hot from the fire, is better than a Yorkshire muffin - But if Indian corn were so disagreeable and indigestible as the Stamp Act, does he imagine that we can get nothing else for breakfast? - Did he never hear that we have oatmeal in plenty, for water gruel or burgoo; as good wheat, rye and barley as the world affords, to make frumenty; or toast and ale; that there is every where plenty of milk, butter, and cheese; that rice is one of our staple commodities; that for tea, we have sage and bawm in our gardens, the young leaves of the sweet hickery or walnut, and above all, the buds of our pine, infinitely preferably to any tea from the Indies… Let the gentleman do us the honor of a visit in America, and I will engage to breakfast him every day in the month with a fresh variety.” (January 2nd, 1766, Benjamin Franklin)

Of course, none of this is definitive. Maybe at some point Franklin or his friend Bartram did try out the tofu recipe. If so, as the writer at the link says, it was probably more a science experiment than anything: "Without any cultural context for the food, 18th c. Philadelphians would have had little idea how to cook, season, store or eat tofu." Imagine thinking that tofu was going to be some kind of cheese. Having made it poorly from a third-hand recipe, you then spread it unadorned on a cracker or piece of toast. I imagine you wouldn't repeat the experience.

Bonus Ben Franklin Fact: He was into electrocuting turkeys because it made them "uncommonly tender."

Two nights ago being about to kill a Turkey from the Shock of two large Glass Jars (Leyden Jars), containing as much electrical fire as forty common Phials, I inadvertently took the whole thro' my own Arm and Body.” (Benjamin Franklin)


Did Ben Franklin actually make any tofu? - History

Apples
As well as saying that &ldquoAn Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away&rdquo, Franklin consistently asked his wife Deborah to ship him barrels of apples while he lived abroad:

&ldquoGoodeys I now and then get a few but roasting Apples seldom, I wish you had sent me some and I wonder how you, that used to think of everything, came to forget it. Newton Pippins would have been the most acceptable.&rdquo (letter from Benjamin Franklin in London, to Deborah in Philadelphia)

Cranberries
As with apples, Franklin had Deborah ship him barrels of cranberries both in England and France:

&ldquoThanks for the Cranberrys. I am as ever Your affectionate Husband B Franklin&rdquo (Benjamin Franklin to Deborah, November 1770)

&ldquoI have lately received some Cranberrys from Boston &hellip I will pick out enough to make you a few Cranberry Tarts&rdquo (friend Jonathan Williams, Jr. to Benjamin Franklin, March 9th,1782)

Potatoes
In 18th Century France, potatoes were deeply unpopular. However, French pharmacist Antoine Augustin Parmentier promoted the potato as a potential solution to French farming difficulties. Franklin advised Parmentier to hold a banquet at Les Invalides with potatoes in every single dish, including desert. Franklin attended, as guest of honor, and wrote a very favorable review:

&ldquoReceipt for the Bite of a Mad Dog&rdquo

Turkey
Franklin wished the Turkey had been chosen as the national bird, rather than the Bald Eagle.

&ldquoFor the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Brid and withal a true Native of America &hellip He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.&rdquo (Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to his daughter)

In addition, Franklin also experimented with killing animals by electrocution, because that made them so &ldquouncommonly tender.&rdquo This process was supposedly more humane than the existing slaughter methods, although risky:

&ldquoTwo nights ago being about to kill a Turkey from the Shock of two large Glass Jars (Leyden Jars), containing as much electrical fire as forty common Phials, I inadvertently took the whole thro&rsquo my own Arm and Body.&rdquo (Benjamin Franklin)

Printer&rsquos Punch
Recipe from Poor Richard&rsquos Almanack, June 1737

&ldquoBoy, bring a bowl of China here,
Fill it with water cool and clear
Decanter with Jamaica ripe,
And spoon of silver, clean and bright,
Sugar twice-fin&rsquod in pieces cut,
Knife, sive, and glass in order put,
Bring forth the fragrant fruit, and then
We&rsquore happy till the clock strikes ten.&rdquo

Parmesan Cheese

&ldquoAnd for one I confess that if I could find in any Italian Travels a Receipt for making Parmesan Cheese, it would give me more Satisfaction than a Transcript of any Inscription from any Stone whatever.&rdquo (Benjamin Franklin to John Bartram, 1769.)

4 years later, in 1773, Franklin received a letter from Dr. Leith, who explained the process at length.

NATIVE AMERICAN FOODS

Franklin was outraged by the negative English opinions concerning American food that he encountered in London. He took a patriotic pride in using &ldquoour own Produce at home&rdquo rather than being dependent on foreign imports. He published a long treatise as &ldquoHomespun&rdquo extolling the virtues of American cooking and foodstuffs:

&ldquoPray let me, an American, inform the gentleman, who seems ignorant of the matter, that Indian corn, take it for all in all, is one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world that its green leaves roasted are a delicacy beyond expression that samp, hominy, succotash, and nokehock, made of it, are so many pleasing varieties and that johny or hoecake, hot from the fire, is better than a Yorkshire muffin &ndash But if Indian corn were so disagreeable and indigestible as the Stamp Act, does he imagine that we can get nothing else for breakfast? &ndash Did he never hear that we have oatmeal in plenty, for water gruel or burgoo as good wheat, rye and barley as the world affords, to make frumenty or toast and ale that there is every where plenty of milk, butter, and cheese that rice is one of our staple commodities that for tea, we have sage and bawm in our gardens, the young leaves of the sweet hickery or walnut, and above all, the buds of our pine, infinitely preferably to any tea from the Indies &hellip Let the gentleman do us the honor of a visit in America, and I will engage to breakfast him every day in the month with a fresh variety.&rdquo (January 2nd, 1766, Benjamin Franklin)

Maple Syrup

VEGETARIAN AND HEALTHY FOODS

When Franklin was about 16, he met &ldquowith a book written by one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet,&rdquo (Franklin, Autobiography) which he promptly stuck to, more or less, for the next three years, and which he returned to for brief spells throughout his life. In addition, he repeats endlessly over the years his recommendation for moderation in eating: &ldquoBe temperate in Wine, in eating, Girls, and Sloth, or the Gout will sieze you and plague you both&rdquo (Poor Richard&rsquos Almanack, 1734)

FOODS INTRODUCED TO THE COLONIES BY FRANKLIN

Tofu
The earliest document seen in which an American mentions tofu is a letter written by Benjamin Franklin (who was in London) to John Bartram in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 11, 1770. He sent Bartram some soybeans (which he called "Chinese caravances") and with them he sent "Father Navarrete's account of the universal use of a cheese made of them in China, which so excited my curiosity, that I caused enquiry to be made of Mr. [James] Flint, who lived many years there, in what manner the cheese was made, and I send you his answer. I have since learned that some runnings of salt (I suppose runnet) is put into water, when the meal is in it, to turn it to curds. [. ] These . are what the Tau-fu is made of."

Rhubarb
Franklin sent seeds to John Bartram in the US in 1772 after seeing plants in Scotland. Bartram wrote Franklin that he had planted some seeds in a bright sunny place, others in the shade, and surprisingly it was the latter that produced. Franklin had earlier sent a case of rhubarb root to Bartram (1770), with instructions on its use as a medicine.

Scotch Kale
&ldquoI send you also &hellip some Seed of the Scotch Cabbage.&rdquo (Franklin, in London, to David Colden, New York, March 5, 1773)


Did Benjamin Franklin propose the turkey as the national symbol?

After the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, it next tasked Benjamin Franklin𠅊long with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—with designing a seal to represent the new country. Given the opportunity to choose a national symbol, the Founding Father never suggested a turkey. According to his notes, Franklin proposed an image of “Moses standing on the shore, and extending his hand over the sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm pharaoh who is sitting in an open chariot” along with the motto “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” While the committee selected the scene from the Book of Exodus for the reverse of the seal, the Continental Congress was not impressed and tabled the concept. Not until 1782 was the Great Seal of the United States, with a bald eagle as its centerpiece, approved.

The story that Franklin proposed the turkey as the national symbol began to circulate in American newspapers around the time of the country’s centennial and are based on a January 26, 1784, letter in which he panned the eagle and extolled the virtues of the gobbler to his daughter, Sarah. In doing so, though, he was not delivering a critique of the Great Seal but a new medal issued by the Society of the Cincinnati, an association of Continental Army veterans. 𠇏or my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country,” he wrote. The Founding Father argued that the eagle was 𠇊 bird of bad moral character” that 𠇍oes not get his living honestly” because it steals food from the fishing hawk and is “too lazy to fish for himself.”


Ben Franklin's Famous 'Liberty, Safety' Quote Lost Its Context In 21st Century

Benjamin Franklin once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." That quote often comes up in the context of new technology and concerns about government surveillance. Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor of Lawfare, tells NPR's Robert Siegel that it wasn't originally meant to mean what people think.

Ben Franklin was innovative, but it's fair to say that he didn't imagine a future of cellphones and of all the privacy issues that come with them. Still, his words are often applied to such issues. Take our conversation last week about police technologies with Virginia State Delegate Richard Anderson.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

RICHARD ANDERSON: Very simply - and I'm paraphrasing here - but Ben Franklin essentially said at one point, those who would trade privacy for a bit of security deserve neither privacy nor security.

SIEGEL: Now, Anderson did say he was paraphrasing, but a few of you wrote in anyway saying, hey, that's not the quote. So we're going to clear things up right now. Benjamin Wittes, editor of the website Lawfare and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, joins us. Hi.

SIEGEL: What's the exact quotation?

WITTES: The exact quotation, which is from a letter that Franklin is believed to have written on behalf of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, reads, those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

SIEGEL: And what was the context of this remark?

WITTES: He was writing about a tax dispute between the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the family of the Penns, the proprietary family of the Pennsylvania colony who ruled it from afar. And the legislature was trying to tax the Penn family lands to pay for frontier defense during the French and Indian War. And the Penn family kept instructing the governor to veto. Franklin felt that this was a great affront to the ability of the legislature to govern. And so he actually meant purchase a little temporary safety very literally. The Penn family was trying to give a lump sum of money in exchange for the General Assembly's acknowledging that it did not have the authority to tax it.

SIEGEL: So far from being a pro-privacy quotation, if anything, it's a pro-taxation and pro-defense spending quotation.

WITTES: It is a quotation that defends the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. It means, in context, not quite the opposite of what it's almost always quoted as saying but much closer to the opposite than to the thing that people think it means.

SIEGEL: Well, as you've said, it's used often in the context of surveillance and technology. And it came up in my conversation with Mr. Anderson 'cause he's part of what's called the Ben Franklin Privacy Caucus in the Virginia legislature. What do you make of the use of this quotation as a motto for something that really wasn't the sentiment Franklin had in mind?

WITTES: You know, there are all of these quotations. Think of kill all the lawyers - right? - from Shakespeare. Nobody really remembers what the characters in question were saying at that time. And maybe it doesn't matter so much what Franklin was actually trying to say because the quotation means so much to us in terms of the tension between government power and individual liberties. But I do think it is worth remembering what he was actually trying to say because the actual context is much more sensitive to the problems of real governance than the flip quotation's use is, often. And Franklin was dealing with a genuine security emergency. There were raids on these frontier towns. And he regarded the ability of a community to defend itself as the essential liberty that it would be contemptible to trade. So I don't really have a problem with people misusing the quotation, but I also think it's worth remembering what it was really about.

SIEGEL: Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institution. Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: And Virginia State Delegate Richard Anderson also received a couple of emails about his Ben Franklin Privacy Caucus, and he says he's going back to its original name, the Ben Franklin Liberty Caucus.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR&rsquos programming is the audio record.


What Benjamin Franklin Really Said About Vegetarianism

While it is becoming more common to see articles on vegetarian diets in general interest publications, references to the history of vegetarianism often don't appear in the media. Many articles treat vegetarianism as something new. In other cases, when early American vegetarians are mentioned, the account may not be very accurate or complete. Often the coverage fails to appreciate adequately the long tradition vegetarianism has in this country.

Few people know that Benjamin Franklin was vegetarian for part of his lifetime. How did vegetarianism actually appear to this famous man?

Background for an answer to this question can be gathered from his writings, from the written sources that influenced him, and from the words of other vegetarians Franklin knew and befriended. All this evidence shows that, whether or not he was able to live up to them himself, the reasons he saw for vegetarianism in the 1700's were ethical and practical.

His writings demonstrate that in addition to the moral aspects, Franklin also saw a pragmatic side to vegetarianism. As a young printer's apprentice in the 1720's, he came upon a book by Thomas Tryon. This was probably Wisdom's Dictates (1691), a digest of Tryon's lengthy The Way to Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Franklin recalls:

When about 16 years of age, I happen'd to meet with a book written by one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet. I determined to go into it. My brother being yet unmarried, did not keep house, but boarded himself and his apprentices in another family. My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's manner of preparing some of his dishes, such as boiling potatoes or rice, making hasty pudding, and a few others, and then propos'd to my brother, that if he would give me weekly half the money he paid for by board, I would board myself. He instantly agreed to it, and I presently found that I could save half what he paid me. This was an additional fund for buying books: but I had another advantage in it. My brother and the rest going from the printinghouse to their meals, I remain'd there alone, and dispatching presently my light repast (which often was no more than a biscuit or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins or a tart from the pastry cook's, and a glass of water) had the rest of the time till their return for study, in which I made the greater progress from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which usually attend temperance in eating and drinking. 1

So, along with the ethical dimension, a vegetarian diet meant savings in both money and time to the young apprentice. He had been desperate from a young age to acquire books and read them now he had extra means of doing both. Franklin does not make any exaggerated claims for the health benefits of abstaining from meat, nor does he criticize meateating as unhealthy.

Exactly what did the young Franklin find in Tryon's work? Wisdom's Dictates is 150 pages of rules about health. These include commentary on diet, exercise, and cleanliness. The concluding pages consist of "A Bill of Fare" which supplies 75 recipes most likely these were the ones tested and adopted by Franklin.

Tryon defends the vegetarian diet as superior, both physically and spiritually. He bases this on his interpretation of Christianity. The moral emphasis of Wisdom's Dictates can be seen on the title page, which refers to the bill of fare as "Seventyfive Noble dishes of Excellent Food, far exceeding those made of fish or flesh, which banquet I present to the sons of wisdom, on such as shall decline that depraved custom of eating flesh and blood."

Tryon goes on to say in the opening pages:

Refrain at all times such foods as cannot be procured without violence and oppression. For know, that all the inferior creatures when hurt do cry and fend forth their complaints to their maker. Be not insensible that every creature doth bear the image of the great creator according to the nature of each, and that he is the vital power in all things. Therefore, let none take pleasure to offer violence to that life, lest he awaken the fierce wrath, and bring danger to his own soul. But let mercy and compassion dwell plentifully in your hearts, that you may be comprehended in the friendly principle of God's love and holy light. Be a friend to everything that's good, and then everything will be a friend to thee, and cooperate for thy good and welfare.

The author also warns his readers against "Hunting, hawking, shooting, and all violent oppressive exercises" due to their immoral nature.

When describing the recipes at his book's end, Tryon again stresses the ethical reasons for adopting the vegetarian diet. These dishes, he informs the reader, are "prepared without flesh and blood, or the dying groans of God's innocent and harmless creatures." He asks the reader to "consider also that thy life is near and dear to thee, the like is understood of all other creatures." 2

Even if he had never read Tryon or become a vegetarian himself, Franklin still would have been acutely aware of the moral arguments for vegetarianism. This is because, based in Philadelphia, he was well acquainted with Quakerism and those Quakers who espoused a vegetarian diet. Some of the best known Quaker proponents of the abolition of slavery were also vegetarian.

The first of these was Benjamin Lay. In 1731, he and his wife moved to Philadelphia from Barbados. There they had witnessed the horrors of the slave trade. This experience, along with his Quaker upbringing in England, deeply influenced his views. Lay was known among Philadelphians for his temperance and his refusal to harm animal life in order to obtain food or clothing. Lay fought against slavery in Pennsylvania and nearby colonies. This battle brought him into contact with Franklin, with whom he maintained a friendship until Lay died in 1759.

There is no doubt that Franklin knew of Lay's beliefs. Lay was far from reserved in expressing his views, whether it be about slavery or the abuse of animals. He once "kidnapped" his neighbors' sixyearold son, and when the worried parents came looking for him, Lay told them, "Your child is safe in my house and you may now conceive of the sorrow you afflict upon the parents of the Negro girl you hold in slavery, for she was torn from them by avarice." He once took a bladder filled with blood into the Yearly Meeting of the Quakers, and puncturing it with a sword, sprinkled blood on some of his companions, telling them, "Thus shall God shed the blood of those persons who enslave their fellowcreatures." 3 His efforts to promote abolition were rewarded, when shortly before his death, the Society of Friends called on all Quakers to release their slaves as a religious duty.

Another Quaker abolitionist and vegetarian known to Franklin was the itinerant preacher John Woolman. In his Journal, Woolman states that he was "early convinced in my mind that true religion consisted in an inward life, wherein the heart doth love and reverence God the Creator and learn to exercise true justice and goodness, not only toward all men, but also toward the brute creatures. " 4 Woolman, over the course of 30 years, traveled throughout the colonies, speaking against slavery and promoting his views on respect for life. His twopart work, Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes, was read in England as well as America and may have been more influential than any other document in turning the Society of Friends against the practice of slavery. Franklin printed the second part of Woolman's essay, as well as other antislavery publications.

Woolman also campaigned against the misuse of animals, particularly horses and oxen. He felt that the abuse of domestic animals for profit was a great evil, and urged relatives not to write when he was traveling due to the conditions endured by those horses used on the stage coaches which delivered the mail.

In Franklin's world, a vegetarian diet was primarily associated with moral choices, not claims of health benefits. Those who would dismiss vegetarianism as a passing fad must not be aware of this long history of ethical vegetarianism in America.

Franklin had his differences with Quakers, in particular over the refusal of some of them to participate in the defense of the colony. However, through his association with Quakers such as Lay and Woolman, he was exposed to arguments against flesheating and knew them to be based on ethical principles.

In Franklin's world, a vegetarian diet was primarily associated with moral choices, not claims of health benefits. Those who would dismiss vegetarianism as a passing fad must not be aware of this long history of ethical vegetarianism in America. This tradition continued into the nineteenth century and helped form the moral basis for the vegetarian movement of the 1830's. It was this later movement that first popularized the case for the health benefits of a vegetarian diet in America.

1 Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography (1790), (New York, W. W. Norton and Company, 1986), p. 28.

2 Thomas Tryon, Wisdom's Dictates (London, 1691), pp. 1, 67, and 139.

3 John Thomas Scharf, History of Philadephia (Philadelphia, L. H. Everts, 1884), p. 1249. Also, American Reformers: H. W. Wilson Biograhical Dictionary (New York, H. W. Wilson Company, 1985), pp. 5145.

4 John Woolman, Journal, (1772) (New York, Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 28.

Larry Kaiser is a freelance writer living in Dexter, Michigan.

This article appears in Vegan Handbook, published by The Vegetarian Resource Group.

© 1996-2013 The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. (410) 366-8343. Email:

The contents of this website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.


Ben Franklin: Founding Father of Veganism, and other Presidential Favorite Dishes

Okay, so we all know the history of the Fourth of July. or maybe some of us have forgotten (middle school was a long time ago, okay?). At whatsGOOD, we kinda zone out about history unless there's something more interesting involved (usually food), so we dug into our database of 417,000 restaurants and over 31,000,000 dishes--and our history books--to bring you some culinary factoids about our Founding Fathers they never taught us in school. From their favorite foods to where you can dine like a president, here's the lowdown.

George Washington :

We all know by now that the whole George Washington and the cherry tree story is a bunch of mumbo jumbo. But in the spirit of our first president's mythical mischief, we could only assume that if George were around today, you could probably find him scarfing down cherry pie at Killer E.S.P. (the "P" stands for "pie") in Alexandria near Washington's home at Mount Vernon. Their self-proclaimed "dangerously delicious" cherry pies are worthy of the prez himself.

Thomas Jefferson :

"T. Jeff" was quite emphatic about his affinity for macaroni, which he first encountered in France and helped popularize in the US, which makes sense, considering he lived a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. The Mac and Cheese is a favorite at Eppie's in Charlottesville, located near Jefferson's longtime home at Monticello.

James Madison :

"Charlie Sheen is dead," "Tom Cruise is gay" --the internet rumor mill is constantly swirling, but did you hear the one about James Madison trying to create a National Brewery and Secretary of Beer? After some digging we found no evidence that this actually happened, but true or not, we like to think that our Founding Fathers enjoyed knocking back a brewski as much as the rest of us.

Madison's wife Dolley was also known for whipping up delicious ice creams (without the luxury of modern freezers, mind you). Madison's favorite flavors were apricot and pink peppermint, which have been incorporated into a rotating menu of gourmet ice creams at 24 Crows in Flint Hill, just north of Madison's home at Montpelier.

Ben Franklin :

Between all the juice bars and health food stores today, Ben Franklin would have fit in with the organic, earthy-crunchy crowd. He supposedly introduced tofu and kale to America, two ingredients that have maintained their popularity (kale chip, anyone?). HipCityVeg in Philly serves up a tangy Kale Lemonade, a twist on a Fourth of July staple. But he wasn't a total health nut. Ever see those tacky T-shirts that say "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy"? Well, Ben Franklin actually said that, and boy are we on the same page.

It seems like the Founding Fathers were on to something with all this beer drinking, and we have to say, we're impressed with their ability to lay the foundations of our nation after knocking back a few (we can't even drunk tweet without getting called out for it). Back in the day, City Tavern (est. 1773) served as an unofficial meeting spot for the First Continental Congress, and the Founding Father's celebrated the first official Fourth of July here as well. Today, they serve up dishes inspired by eighteenth century Colonial America, including Braised Rabbit, Lobster Pie, and a spicy dish called West Indies Pepperpot made with beef, taro root, habanero, and allspice.

Cheat Sheet Of The Founding Father Favorite Dishes

Drinks
Kale Lemonade at HipCityVeg
Beer. lots of it

Main Courses
Mac and Cheese at Eppie's
West Indies Pepperpot at City Tavern

Dessert
Cherry Pie at Killer E.S.P.
Apricot and Honey or Peppermint Ice Cream at 24 Crows

Bonus: Ales of the Revolution made exclusively for City Tavern by Yards Brewing Company, brewed with authentic presidential recipes


6 Gandhi Slept in a Pile of Naked Women (Including His Niece)

Gandhi is arguably the most famous spiritual leader in modern history and was responsible for the civil rights movement that eventually broke British imperial rule over India. He was known for peaceful acts of non-cooperation, including hunger strikes, boycotts, and a 241-mile march to the sea to gather salt, an act prohibited by a bizarrely specific edict of British law.

Gandhi was revered as a holy man until he was assassinated by a religious fanatic, which sadly is what tends to happen to people like him. History repaid Gandhi for decades of self-sacrifice in the name of his fellow man by making a movie about his life starring the bad guy from Species.

It's true that Gandhi took a vow of celibacy when he was 37. However, this did not stop him from heroically encouraging young women to sleep naked with him until he was well into his 70s.

He claimed that this was merely an extension of his vow, intended to test his pious restraint (a phrase a cynical person could take to mean "to inflate his boner tube"). According to the strict rules of Gandhi's ashram, these women weren't even allowed to sleep with their own husbands, yet they were all but required to participate in the Mahatma's creepy old man slumber parties, which included not only sleeping nude with Gandhi, but also bathing with him and giving him stripteases, because the path to a temptation-free existence is apparently paved with nipple tassels.

That's not even the shadiest part. Gandhi took his 18-year-old grandniece on a trip with him to Bengal and commanded her to share the nudity bunk with him for their entire stay, a move he rationalized by telling her that they might be killed at any moment by angry Muslims. That's right -- Gandhi told his barely legal niece to take off all of her clothes and climb into bed with her equally naked great uncle because the two of them might suddenly be murdered.

We're not even saying he was secretly slipping these girls the G-bone every night -- we have no knowledge of that. We're saying that commanding everyone to sleep in a nude Gandhi pile, purely for the purpose of not engaging in sex, is somehow way freakier.

Related: 5 Horrific Things Beloved Celebs Got Away With


Did Ben Franklin actually make any tofu? - History

Benjamin Franklin, Entrepreneur

Franklin was the youngest son and fifteenth child born to his working-class father and he only attended school for two years - but he made enough money to retire from active business by the age of 42.

Well, it wasn&rsquot by patenting his most famous invention, the lightning rod. In fact, Franklin didn&rsquot patent any of his inventions or scientific discoveries, since he believed that everyone should be able to freely benefit from scientific progress. In his autobiography, he explained: &ldquoAs we enjoy great advantages from the invention of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.&rdquo In this way, he was sort of an eighteenth century open-source advocate.

Many people have tried to learn Franklin&rsquos secrets to success from his bestseller, &ldquoThe Way to Wealth,&rdquo which is still in print and has gone through more than thirteen hundred editions. The book compiles famous sayings such as, &ldquoA penny saved is a penny earned,&rdquo and &ldquoEarly to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.&rdquo But although Franklin admired thrift and frugality all his life, he was only human and often found these ideals hard to live up to. He admitted in a letter to a friend, written at the end of his life, that although &ldquofrugality is an enriching virtue,&rdquo it was also &ldquoa virtue I could never acquire in myself.&rdquo But the next sentence points to one of the tricks we can learn from Franklin. He continues, &ldquoI was lucky enough to find it [frugality] in a wife, who thereby became a fortune to me.&rdquo As a teenager, Franklin had made friends with people who combined equal amounts of charisma with unreliability, but after being burned a few times, he made sure that the people in his life, from business partners to friends, embodied the qualities of industry, frugality, and dependability that he looked up to.

That&rsquos one of Franklin&rsquos tips for success, but to find the rest, we need to analyze his career as a printer. Despite his later fame as a scientist and diplomat, Franklin actually thought of himself first and foremost as a printer, all the way up to the end of his life. He was without a doubt one of the most successful printers of his time in America &ndash and he provided an example of entrepreneurship we can learn from even today.

1. Franklin was ambitious, hardworking, and trustworthy

Printing is an industry with high capitalization costs, so Franklin needed support to get set up on his own. His honesty and ambition won him the confidence of friends with the resources to fund a print shop, and his diligence and work ethic made the business a success. In his autobiography, Franklin noted that he often worked past 11pm to get a job done, and that if necessary, he would stay overnight to redo it. In a town the size of Philadelphia, people quickly noticed this extra effort, and Franklin&rsquos growing reputation lured customers away from his rivals.

2. Franklin was image conscious

Walter Isaacson, a Franklin biographer and former chairman of CNN, calls Ben Franklin &ldquothe country&rsquos first unabashed public relations expert.&rdquo Franklin knew how useful a good reputation was, and cheerfully explained in his autobiography that he &ldquotook care not only to be in reality industrious and frugal, but to avoid all appearances of the contrary.&rdquo He then goes on to describe his carefully cultivated image, &ldquoI drest plainly I was seen at no Places of idle Diversion I never went out a-fishing or shooting . and to show that I was not above my Business, I sometimes brought home the Paper I purchas&rsquod at the Stores, thro&rsquo the Streets on a Wheelbarrow.&rdquo By the end of the paragraph, Franklin&rsquos competitor and former boss has been driven out of business and is reduced to &ldquovery poor Circumstances.&rdquo Franklin not only was hard-working and down-to-earth, he also made sure that everyone knew it, and as a result, he gained credibility and customers.

3. Franklin knew the value of networking

Even as a young tradesman, Franklin sought to improve himself and his community. He organized weekly meetings of a small group of other tradesmen and artisans, called a Junto. At their weekly meetings they asked how they &ldquomay be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?&rdquo In between establishing a university, hospital, lending library, militia, firefighting brigade, learned society, and insurance company, Franklin and his fellow Junto members sent plenty of business each other&rsquos way.

At the age of thirty, by which time his Pennsylvania Gazette was the most widely read newspaper in the colonies, Franklin campaigned to be made clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly. This job was so boring that he often whiled away the time by making up mathematical puzzles, but it helped him make valuable connections. He used them to his advantage in bidding for lucrative government printing work.

4. Franklin took risks, but only very calculated risks

Job printing was a colonial printer&rsquos bread and butter. Franklin, like his peers, could be relatively certain of his income from commissioned work, which included legal forms, contracts, licenses, sermons and pamphlets. But for bigger rewards, printers had to take bigger risks, by acting as publishers. Printing, as we&rsquove already noted, is a capital and labor intensive industry, and so a printer who published an entire edition of a book would tie up a lot of capital. If he misjudged his market, he could easily be left with a stack of unsold volumes on his hands. For that reason, printer-publishers tended to produce newspapers, one sheet &ldquobroadsides&rdquo on topical issues, and annual publications with predictable sales figures, such as almanacs. Franklin published all these types of material, but when his calculations convinced him that his investment in more daring ventures would be returned, he was prepared to take the risk. This resulted in several profitable bestsellers, but sometimes things still went wrong &ndash for example, when he was left with an edition of the Psalms of David on his hands for two years!

5. Franklin came up with solutions that turned potential problems into silver linings.

Once an apprentice reached majority (usually at 21), they became journeyman printers, and were free to leave Franklin&rsquos shop to set up business on their own, if they could find the seed capital. Rather than risk one of his journeymen finding the backing to become a local competitor, Franklin came up with a basic franchising idea. He provided trusted journeymen with the necessary equipment and materials to set themselves up as his printing partner in another colonial city, where there wasn&rsquot yet a printing industry. They paid him back with one-third of their annual profits for the next six years &ndash and they expanded Franklin&rsquos market penetration, creating economies of scale that paved the way for bolder publishing ventures and more competitive pricing.

6. Franklin looked at the whole picture, guaranteeing supply, quality product, and distribution.

Franklin&rsquos involvement in his industry spanned its entire range. His Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard&rsquos Almanacs were the most successful publications in the country, in large part due to Franklin&rsquos witty conversational writing style. He had taught himself to write well by reading essays from The Spectator, taking notes, and then trying to rewrite the articles from scratch. But Franklin&rsquos success didn&rsquot derive from good content alone. He and his wife collected cotton rags (the raw material of paper), invested in setting up paper mills, and eventually ran a thriving wholesale paper business. Having tackled supply, Franklin moved on to distribution, spending years lobbying for the top post office job in the colonies. When he finally became deputy postmaster, he invested in increased efficiency, cutting the delivery time from Philadelphia to New York down to a day, and set up the first home-delivery system and the first dead letter office. Franklin also arranged for several of his friends and family to be named regional postmasters, thus expanding his publishing market and boosting his personal income. He was soon at the center of a sophisticated inter-colonial communications network, one of the most dynamic in the world.

7. Franklin was inventive &ndash he thought &ldquoout of the box.&rdquo

Franklin came up with America&rsquos first political cartoon, and printed Pamela, the first novel published in the colonies. He has also been inducted into the Direct Mail Order Hall of Fame, having pioneered the mail order catalogue as an inventive way to get rid of his back catalogue. However, Franklin also made sure that while he was innovating, he was still covering the more traditional bases to maintain customer comfort. He and Deborah ran a stationer&rsquos shop on the side, stocking all sorts of sundries including fine chocolate. Meanwhile, his newspaper devoted ample column space to ever-popular gossip and sensational crimes.

8. Franklin identified unmet demands, created an awareness of them, and then often stepped forward to fill them.

Franklin saw the world around him in terms of how it could be improved upon, either by enhancing an existing tool, or by inventing a new solution altogether. This translated, in business terms, to not only seeing gaps in the market, but also coming up with creative ways to plug them. For example, Franklin noticed that almost a third of his fellow settlers in Pennsylvania were German-speakers, and promptly launched the Philadelphische Zeitung &ndash the first newspaper printed in German in the colonies.

He also knew how to communicate his vision to others, often using his press as a vehicle for strategic public relations work. When the Pennsylvania Assembly was debating raising the limits on the amount of paper currency in the colony, Franklin wrote an anonymous pamphlet that swung the tide in favor, A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper-Currency. He was then awarded the lucrative commission to print the currency, having also come up with an ingenious way to thwart counterfeiting by using unique leaf prints. And when Franklin&rsquos friend, Dr. Thomas Bond, approached him to suggest that Philadelphia needed a hospital, Franklin immediately came up with the motivating concept of a matching funds donation, and wrote inspiringly in his Gazette about our shared moral duty to help the sick.

Franklin&rsquos lifelong search for a better world did not always result in personal profit. Nonetheless, &ldquodoing well by doing good&rdquo remains the secret to his success, both as entrepreneur, and as human being.


1 Benjamin Franklin, Tornado Chaser

In 1749, the folk along the Mediterranean Sea were freaking out. They&rsquod spotted a waterspout off the coast of Italy, and people were terrified the world was coming to an end. Wanting to calm the masses, the Pope put his best man on the job, a science-minded priest named Father Ruder Boscovich. After some quick research, Boscovich wrote a book explaining how waterspouts were rare but perfectly natural. In other words, calm down, everybody. A few months later, in 1750, a London magazine published a review of Boscovich&rsquos work, and soon people were sending copies of the article to Benjamin Franklin, asking for his opinion on these crazy waterspout things. Since Franklin didn&rsquot know a lot about tornadoes, he started combing through articles in science journals, analyzing firsthand accounts, and networking with a team of amateur meteorologists, trying to find the truth about twisters.

Pretty quickly, Franklin discovered most scientists were wrong when it came to waterspouts. Many people believed they were made of water, but Franklin asserted they were actually giant columns of wind. And if they were made of wind, that meant they could swing up onto land. Of course, people thought Franklin was nuts. &ldquoLandspouts,&rdquo as Franklin called them, were quite rare in New England, and most of Franklin&rsquos friends thought his theory was ludicrous. And when he wrote a treatise explaining his beliefs, the Royal Society turned their head and dismissed the whole thing. As you might expect, Franklin was frustrated, especially since he didn&rsquot have any solid evidence to back his claims. In fact, he&rsquod never even seen a landspout . . . well, not until 1754, anyway.

Franklin and his son William were on their way to visit friends in Maryland when they spied a whirlwind headed their direction. It was about 15 meters (50 ft) high and 9 meters (30 ft) wide at the top, and Franklin&rsquos companions were a tad nervous. But instead of running away like a normal person, Franklin followed the twister on horseback. According to Franklin, &ldquothe whirl was not so swift but that a man on foot might have kept pace with it,&rdquo but it was spinning incredibly fast. Curious what would happen, Franklin attacked the twister with his riding whip. Obviously, the whirlwind didn&rsquot react and just rolled into a forest, with Franklin beside the whole way. Eventually, he started noticing the &ldquolandspout&rdquo sucking up leaves . . . and then saw it was sucking up branches. That&rsquos when he started to wonder if this was such a good idea. Finally, Franklin decided he&rsquod seen enough, but William followed the twister until it disappeared. So yeah, you could say the Franklins were America&rsquos first storm chasers.

Nolan Moore believes Benjamin Franklin got all his best ideas from an anthropomorphic mouse. If you want, you can send Nolan an email or friend/follow him on Facebook.