Skip to Content

Did Albert broccoli invent broccoli?

Broccoli is one of the most popular and nutritious vegetables around the world. Its green florets and crunchy stalk are staples in many cuisines. But where did broccoli originate from and how did it become so popular? In particular, some wonder if broccoli was invented or discovered by a man named Albert Broccoli.

The Origins of Broccoli

Broccoli has been around for over 2,000 years, although not in its current cultivated form. The vegetable we know as broccoli evolved from wild cabbage plants native to Europe and the Mediterranean. These primitive cabbage plants likely produced florets resembling broccoli around the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, a vegetable known as “calabrese” was similar to modern broccoli. Calabrese was cooked and eaten much like we eat broccoli today.

Over the centuries, farmers began intentionally cultivating the buds of certain brassica oleracea plants, including cabbage, kale, and mustard greens. By selecting and growing plants with larger, tastier flower heads, early versions of broccoli were developed in Italy in the 1500s. These primitive broccoli plants had small green florets on long, inedible stalks. Italian immigrants later brought broccoli to England and America where further breeding led to the varieties we have today.

So while broccoli has ancient origins, the familiar broccoli we love emerged from centuries of careful cultivation starting in Italy during the 16th century. There’s no evidence that one single person invented or discovered it.

The Story of Albert Broccoli

This takes us to the supposed creator of broccoli, Albert Broccoli. There are apocryphal stories that he commissioned the development of broccoli during the 20th century. So who was Albert Broccoli?

Albert Romolo Broccoli was an American film producer who became famous as the producer of many early James Bond movies. He founded Eon Productions along with Harry Saltzman and acquired the rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond character in 1961. Broccoli went on to produce some of the most popular and successful Bond movies like Dr. No, Goldfinger, and You Only Live Twice.

Due to his surname being the same as the vegetable, a myth emerged that Albert Broccoli actually invented broccoli. He helped fuel the myth by claiming he was brought to America as an infant in the 1920s specifically to promote the newly created hybrid vegetable, which was his family name. It was all just an amusing story though, as historical records prove broccoli existed long before Albert Broccoli.

The True History of Broccoli

So when and where was broccoli first cultivated? Let’s take a look at the evidence:

  • Broccoli originated from wild cabbage plants in Europe/Mediterranean, not the Americas.
  • Romans in ancient Italy ate a vegetable similar to broccoli called “calabrese.”
  • Broccoli was intentionally bred in Italy during the 16th century from other brassica crops.
  • Italian immigrants brought broccoli to America in the late 1800s.
  • Albert Broccoli was born in 1909, centuries after the origins of broccoli cultivation.

Given these key facts, there is no credible evidence that Albert Broccoli invented, engineered or had anything to do with the creation of broccoli. The vegetable had existed for many centuries before Mr. Broccoli was born.

But how did broccoli become so popular? Although discovered in Italy, broccoli didn’t really take off until the 1920s United States. Americans increasingly sought out new exotic vegetables during this time. Broccoli’s rise was also helped by Chinese immigrants who brought their own broccoli recipes. By the 1950s, broccoli production greatly increased in California where it thrived in the fields. High in nutrients and adaptable in many cuisines, broccoli has deservedly earned its place as one of the most ubiquitous and healthy veggies.

Broccoli Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the history and botany of broccoli:

Fact Information
Origins Evolved from wild cabbage plants in Europe/Mediterranean
Ancestor Closely related to cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts
First cultivated 16th century in Italy
Brought to America Late 1800s by Italian immigrants
Main producer California provides over 90% of broccoli in US
Nutrition High in vitamin C and vitamin K


In conclusion, broccoli has a long and storied history. While some individuals like Albert Broccoli helped promote broccoli, there is no evidence he or any single person invented or first cultivated it. Like many vegetables, broccoli slowly evolved over centuries through selective breeding into the nutritious green vegetable we love today.