CLOSE
Rebecca O'Connell (iStock)(Getty Images)
Rebecca O'Connell (iStock)(Getty Images)

5 of Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite Foods

Rebecca O'Connell (iStock)(Getty Images)
Rebecca O'Connell (iStock)(Getty Images)

Honest Abe was born 208 years ago today, so we’ve gathered some menu options for a Lincoln-approved birthday buffet. Enjoy.

1. BACON

According to the sixteenth President’s last bodyguard, Colonel William H. Crook, “Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln breakfasted at nine. Mr. Lincoln was a hearty eater. He never lost his taste for the things a growing farmer’s boy would like. He was particularly fond of bacon.” One wonders what he’d have thought of “Epic Mealtime”…

It’s worth noting that in the mid-1800s, “bacon” had a slightly different meaning. Today, this breakfast food’s defined as “cured meat taken from the side or belly of a pig.” But, back then, any slice of pork that had been salted and cured qualified as proper bacon.

2. APPLES

Mrs. Lincoln always had a sufficiency of this fruit chosen carefully and readily at hand,” Crook writes in Memories of the White House (1911). The health-conscious statesman considered these a dietary staple. “Apples,” he said, “agree with me… a large per cent of professional men abuse their stomachs by imprudence in drinking and eating, and in that way health is injured and life is shortened.”

3. CORN CAKES

Much as he liked nutritious snacks, Lincoln wasn’t above the occasional cheat day. Abe often bragged that he could devour tasty corn cakes “as quickly as two women could make them.”

4. OYSTERS

Along with his remarks at Gettysburg, Lincoln’s second inaugural address has become one of the man’s most iconic speeches. Yet, the after-party was a bit of a disaster. At his White House’s celebratory ball, Lincoln threw a banquet complete with one of his favorite foods, oysters, in both stew and pickled form. Unfortunately, the guests soon learned that there wasn’t quite enough grub to go around. Like frenzied, well-dressed locusts, hungry visitors started swarming the buffet line, spilling countless entrees en route. As the Washington Evening Star reported, “The floor of the supper room was soon sticky, pasty and oily with wasted confections, mashed cake and debris of foul [sic] and meat.” Yum!

5. GINGERBREAD MEN

While debating Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln amused their audience with a childhood story about his mother’s gingerbread men. One day, the senatorial candidate recalled, she’d baked three for him. After carrying the treats outside, he spotted a friend who hailed from a much poorer family.

Abe,” his young associate said, “gimme a man.” He did so, but before Lincoln could even finish his first, the boy blurted, “Abe, gimme that other’n.” Reluctantly, he handed it over, quipping, “You seem to like gingerbread men.” “Abe,” his pal sighed, “I don’t s’pose anybody on earth likes gingerbread better’n I do—and gets less’n I do...”

This post originally ran in 2015.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Screenshot via Mount Vernon/Vimeo
arrow
History
The Funky History of George Washington's Fake Teeth
Screenshot via Mount Vernon/Vimeo
Screenshot via Mount Vernon/Vimeo

George Washington may have the most famous teeth—or lack thereof—in American history. But counter to what you may have heard about the Founding Father's ill-fitting dentures, they weren't made of wood. In fact, he had several sets of dentures throughout his life, none of which were originally trees. And some of them are still around. The historic Mount Vernon estate holds the only complete set of dentures that has survived the centuries, and the museum features a video that walks through old George's dental history.

Likely due to genetics, poor diet, and dental disease, Washington began losing his original teeth when he was still a young man. By the time he became president in 1789, he only had one left in his mouth. The dentures he purchased to replace his teeth were the most scientifically advanced of the time, but in the late 18th century, that didn't mean much.

They didn't fit well, which caused him pain, and made it difficult to eat and talk. The dentures also changed the way Washington looked. They disfigured his face, causing his lips to noticeably stick out. But that doesn't mean Washington wasn't grateful for them. When he finally lost his last surviving tooth, he sent it to his dentist, John Greenwood, who had made him dentures of hippo ivory, gold, and brass that accommodated the remaining tooth while it still lived. (The lower denture of that particular pair is now held at the New York Academy of Medicine.)

A set of historic dentures
George Washington's Mount Vernon

These days, no one would want to wear dentures like the ones currently held at Mount Vernon (above). They're made of materials that would definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth. The base that fit the fake teeth into the jaw was made of lead. The top teeth were sourced from horses or donkeys, and the bottom were from cows and—wait for it—people.

These teeth actually deteriorated themselves, revealing the wire that held them together. The dentures open and shut thanks to metal springs, but because they were controlled by springs, if he wanted to keep his mouth shut, Washington had to permanently clench his jaw. You can get a better idea of how the contraption worked in the video from Mount Vernon below.

Washington's Dentures from Mount Vernon on Vimeo.

There are plenty of lessons we can learn from the life of George Washington, but perhaps the most salient is this: You should definitely, definitely floss.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Darren McCollester/Newsmakers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
arrow
Pop Culture
11 Famous Men Who Used to Be Cheerleaders
Darren McCollester/Newsmakers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Darren McCollester/Newsmakers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When cheerleading was “born” on November 2, 1898, it looked a lot different than it does today. There were no tiny outfits, no wild stunts and—surprise!—no women. University of Minnesota student Johnny Campbell rallied a football crowd with the ad-libbed cheer, "Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-u-mah, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!” and unwittingly became the father of cheerleading. (The school, by the way, still uses Campbell’s original cheer to this day.)

Soon after Campbell’s performance, the University of Minnesota organized a six-man “yell squad” and other colleges followed suit. Women didn’t really enter the picture until 1923. Although male cheerleaders are the minority today, there was a time when they were the vast—and loud—majority. Here are 11 famous examples of them.

1. GEORGE W. BUSH

Future president George W. Bush wasn't just a cheerleader at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in the 1960s: he was head cheerleader. And he’s in good company ...

2. AARON SPELLING

Aaron Spelling may have made his name behind the scenes as one of television's most prolific—and successful—producers, but he was front and center when he was head cheerleader at Southern Methodist University.

3. JIMMY STEWART


Getty Images

Iconic actor Jimmy Stewart was also head cheerleader during his tenure at Princeton.

4. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

When he was no longer able to play football at West Point, Eisenhower decided to continue supporting his team by cheerleading instead.

5. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

FDR cheered for Harvard football in 1904, notably rallying the crowd for a particularly heated game against Brown.

6. SAMUEL L. JACKSON

Samuel L. Jackson lent his legendary voice to the squad at Riverside High in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

7. STEVE MARTIN


NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Steve Martin tried to write cheers for the squad he was on, but has said “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs” didn’t go over too well.

8. TRENT LOTT

Former Mississippi senator Trent Lott was a cheerleader at Ole Miss.

9. RONALD REAGAN


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ronald Reagan cheered on his basketball team at Eureka College in Illinois.

10. AND 11. KIRK DOUGLAS AND MICHAEL DOUGLAS

Before he was an actor, Kirk Douglas honed his performance skills as a cheerleader at Amsterdam High School in Amsterdam, New York. As with acting, Kirk's son Michael also followed in his dad's footsteps in cheerleading; he was on the squad at Choate.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios