Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace were great animal lovers and allowed dozens of pets to roam freely on White House grounds. In addition to ten dogs, three cats, and dozens of exotic birds and wildlife, including thirteen Peking ducks, two African lion cubs (named Tax Reduction and Budget Deficit), a donkey, goose, canaries, a wombat and an Australian wallaby), the Collidges also had a rambunctious pet raccoon named Rebecca.
Rebecca was sent to the Coolidges to be part of their Thanksgiving dinner but the president was reportedly so delighted with her that he had a little house built for her near a large tree on the White House lawn and could often be seen playing with her after his afternoon paperwork was done.
Treated like a family member, Rebecca was occasionally allowed to dine in the White House, where she was served such sumptuous dishes as baked chicken with persimmon, scrambled eggs, cream, and shrimp. Not bad for a raccoon!
FOOD HISTORY FACT: Published in 1931, the first edition of Irma Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking contains instructions on preparing squirrel and raccoon.