Inside Out 2 has besmirched my favorite vegetable and I will not stand for it

Pixar’s Inside Out 2 is indisputably one of the biggest movies of the summer. Unfortunately, even its billion dollar box office earnings can’t overcome one major failing, in my eyes: the vilification of broccoli.

Like in the first film, young teenager Riley despises broccoli. It’s the food that first triggered the Disgust emotion when she was just a baby, and this continues as a gag in the new movie. When thinking about a gross protein bar, her Stream of Consciousness (which in Inside Out fashion… is a literal stream, of course) manifests a giant broccoli — which is rendered to look like a huge unappealing hunk of plastic toy food. Disgust wrinkles her nose at it, but the emotions have to hop on and ride it to get to the end of Riley’s mind.

Joy stands giant piece of broccoli, floating in a lue stream. It’s about to go over a huge chasm and Joy is carrying anger, about to punt him off Image: Disney/Pixar

I get that Riley personally dislikes broccoli and that everyone has different tastes. But Riley is a fictional character written by people, and she is one of many many fictional characters who hate broccoli. So I just want to know: Why is broccoli the gross yucky vegetable in pop culture? Yes, young children are often picky about greens. And yes, young children often don’t get to try vegetables in tasty meals, instead of just as a side foisted on them. But broccoli is disproportionately depicted as the yuckiest vegetable! Which in turn makes kids turn their nose up at it, without really give it a chance. Rude and frankly wrong, because broccoli is delicious.

I’ve loved broccoli since I was a kid, and it always baffled me when characters in the shows and movies I watched hated it. Have they never oven roasted broccoli at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, tossed with oil, salt, and garlic? It’s delicious and crispy and just perfect! Stir fried broccoli with soy sauce and a splash of sesame oil? Steamed it with lemon and garlic? It adds a nice contrast to macaroni and cheese, a fantastic way to add a little bit of healthiness to packaged ramen noodles, and a great side to Chinese takeout. It is tasty, nutritious, and very versatile.

An animated slice of pizza with broccoli on it
Image: Disney/Pixar

Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables, and I am tired of seeing it wrongly maligned! Children across different American TV shows, like Bart Simpson and the Powerpuff Girls, turn their nose up at broccoli. And even though the characters sometimes get over it and decide they need to eat their greens to save the bad guy, it’s still interesting that it’s so often broccoli over any other green. As a kid, claiming you liked broccoli immediately clocked you as uncool — which was always weird to me, considering that likes and dislikes aren’t supposed to be universal experiences.

In fact, the vehement childhood hatred of broccoli isn’t even universal across the world; blog posts from other countries question why this is such a thing in America. The initial broccoli gag in the first Inside Out movie was localized, actually, because children in Japan don’t find broccoli to be icky. It was replaced by green peppers (which I’m inclined to agree with, but mostly because I’m slightly allergic to them when raw). As Americans we all ought to find a new vegetable as the universal gross one and revolutionize its pop culture depiction, because broccoli is too damn good to be the icky vegetable.

I nominate lettuce: it’s basically just crunchy water. Anything lettuce does, spinach, cabbage, or kale can do better.