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Calvin Coolidge Corn Muffins

Calvin Coolidge Corn Muffins
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I have always had a soft spot for Calvin Coolidge, America’s 30th president and New England native. “Silent Cal” was president during the jazzy, carefree decade after World War I but but before the Great Depression, and his legacy remains a muddled mix of conservative politics, quiet reserve, dry wit, Puritan frugality, and a willingness to pose for pictures, sometimes wearing a Native American headdress.

He also loved corn muffins, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Calvin Coolidge Corn Muffins

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
The 30th presiden’t favorite muffins? Old-fashioned cornmeal!

Born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont on July 4, 1872, Cal went on to graduate from Amherst College in Amherst, MA before setting up a law practice in nearby Northampton. In addition to practicing law, he also jumped into politics, steadily progressing from city and state seats, to winning the Vice-Presidency on Warren G. Harding’s Republican ticket in 1920. Then, on August 2, 1923, Harding suffered a stroke and died, making Calvin the new president. Because he was visiting his father at the time in Vermont, President Coolidge was sworn in by lantern-light on the family bible. It doesn’t get any folksier than that.

Coolidge was your stereotypical Yankee, and thus, utterly endearing. In the midst of great economic extravagance, Coolidge stubbornly maintained his silent, conservative demeanor and droll personality. Teddy Roosevelt’s outspoken daughter Alice once remarked that Cal looked like he had been “weaned on a pickle,” and I confess she had a point. President Coolidge believed his countrymen wanted a solemn president, and he fit the bill nicely.

The most famous Coolidge story has it that he was seated next to a society woman at a dinner party, who chattered on for a time, then paused to reveal she had made a bet with friends that claimed she wouldn’t be able to get more than two words out of the President all evening. Without looking at her he replied only, “You lose.”

Touché, Calvin.

Great animal lovers, the Coolidge family had an absolute menagerie of pets, which intensified during their years in the White House, where gifts of exotic pets were a Presidential perk. Several birds, cats, dogs, a bear, tiger cubs, a wombat, fish, and even a raccoon named Rebecca made their homes in and around the Executive Mansion. The president himself was fond of wandering the corridors with a cat named Tige draped around his neck. Just pause for a moment and imagine that!

Calvin Coolidge Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins fresh from the oven.

No slouch in her own right, First Lady Grace Coolidge’s official White House portrait shows her in a striking roaring twenties red dress with collie Rob Roy (his female companion was named Prudence Prim) at her feet. Grace was charming, chatty, and the ideal counterpart to her silent, watchful, albeit very humorous husband.

Preferring things simple, Cal enjoyed a casual White House kitchen with menus reminiscent of his Yankee upbringing. For breakfast he preferred homemade hot cereal, griddle cakes, and especially cornmeal muffins. He had such a love for the cornmeal muffins he had grown up with that a recipe had to be sent down to Washington from a New England Inn to satisfy the President’s craving.

To pay tribute to Calvin Coolidge in a culinary fashion could only be to make corn muffins. It doesn’t have to be his favorite recipe….it just needs to be New England in origin, and undoubtedly delicious. I looked no further than my newly acquired copy of “The Best Recipes From New England Inns,” where sure enough, the iconic Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA had a recipe to share.

Calvin Coolidge Corn Muffins

President Coolidge’s favorite muffin is still a favorite today.

These corn muffins use more bread flour than cornmeal, making them less gritty than your average corn muffin, and the baking powder helps give them glorious domed tops.  I am sure President Coolidge would have approved, though he probably would have done so with silence.

I could live with that.

Corn Muffins Recipe Links
View and print the recipe for Corn Muffins
Save Corn Muffins to your Recipe Box

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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Aimee Seavey

Author:

Aimee Seavey

Biography:

Assistant Editor Aimee Seavey is a staff writer for Yankee Magazine and assists in the development and promotion of content for YankeeMagazine.com through blogging and social media outlets.
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4 Responses to Calvin Coolidge Corn Muffins

  1. Jim Cooke September 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    “More Than Two Words” is the title of my solo history play on Calvin Coolidge. Thanks for your post. There are a couple of things to note: We had ended the Great War before Harding came to office. The Coolidge administration was winding up a decade after the war. Native American became citizens while Cal was president. He was our first president to acknowledge that he had “Indian blood” – not good news to the Grand Old Party. When Will Rogers saw a photo of Coolidge wearing a war bonnet he telegraphed the White House: “Politics makes strange Red Fellows.”
    Coolidge was our last president not to drive a car or fly in an airplane. He was also our last president to travel by horseback to deliver and address – this at the dedication of work-about-to-begin on Rushmore Mountain in South Dakota in 1927. In his speech of dedication, he coined the phrase “Shrine of Democracy”.
    In conclusion: There’s way too much sugar in those corn muffins!

    • Aimee Seavey September 2, 2011 at 10:18 am #

      Hi Jim!
      Love your comment – thanks for weighing in and sharing that wealth of Cal trivia! I love those kinds of details. He (and his generation) certainly experienced a lot of America’s industrial growth and the changes that came along with it. I’ll bet your play is as entertaining as Cal was. I also appreciate your clarification on the timeline – I have updated the post to say that he was president during those golden years following WWI but prior to the Great Depression. Not sure how I let that one slip by me! Thanks!
      Aimee

  2. UM September 1, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Calvin was President just before World War II… and pretty meh as presidents go. But those corn muffins look good.

  3. Jen @ BeantownBaker.com September 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    Love this post Aimee. And the corn muffins look good too :)

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