5 of Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite Foods

Rebecca O'Connell (iStock and Brady/Getty Images)
Rebecca O'Connell (iStock and Brady/Getty Images)

Honest Abe was born 210 years ago today, so we’ve gathered some menu options for a Lincoln-approved birthday buffet. Enjoy.

1. Bacon

According to the 16th 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.”

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 ready 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 fast 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.

Did Teddy Roosevelt Really Say That?

Mental Floss has a new podcast with iHeartRadio called History Vs., about how your favorite historical figures faced off against their greatest foes. Our first season is all about President Theodore Roosevelt. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts here, and for more TR content, visit the History Vs. site.

How a Herd of Goats Helped Save the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum from California’s Wildfires

Oleg Elkov/iStock via Getty Images
Oleg Elkov/iStock via Getty Images

This past spring, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, decided to prepare for the possibility of wildfires by clearing flammable brush around the perimeter. Instead of dousing it in herbicide or preemptively burning it away with controlled fire, they simply ushered in 500 very hungry goats.

According to Smithsonian.com, Vincent Van Goat, Selena Goatmez, and other aptly named ungulates are part of a service called 805 Goats, which offers a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly method of clearing land by which herds of goats eat every plant in sight.

Now surrounded by barren land, the institution watched several months pass without a fire—until last Wednesday, when library curator Randle Swan arrived on the premises and spotted California’s Easy Fire not too far off. He later told NBC Los Angeles that they had actually planned an emergency drill for that day.

CNN reports that although Simi Valley police mandated evacuations, some security workers, the library director, the facility manager, and the head curator all stayed on site to fortify artifacts against the approaching blaze. Along with records from Reagan’s political career, the library contains Nancy Reagan’s wedding ring, dresses, and many other personal belongings. The graves of both Reagans are also on the grounds.

Firefighting aircrafts and trucks steadily soaked the area with water in an attempt to stave off creeping flames.

"It's a pretty tough situation here, there's never been fires this close to the library," the library's executive director John Heubusch told KTLA. "It's a place of national treasure, and the flames are licking right up against it."

Both the parking lot and the heroic efforts of firefighters undoubtedly kept the wildfires from reaching the library and museum, but the goats’ earlier enterprise definitely didn’t go unacknowledged.

“One of the firefighters mentioned that they do believe the goats’ fire line helped them fight this fire,” library spokesperson Melissa Giller told CNN. “They just proved today how useful they really are.”

And they couldn’t have done it without their epic four-chambered stomachs—find out more about that and other awesome goat facts here.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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