Every sailor on Constitution is part of a 12-strong family called a mess. "Messmates" are not related, but they might as well be, for they are as close as brothers. Each mealtime, they gather in the same spot on the berth deck, spread out a cloth, and sit round it cross-legged to share their food. In a mess, everyone is equal, whatever their age or rank, and they can choose their messmates. This is a rare freedom in a world where officers control almost everything else they do.
Have your students record a detailed log of what they eat during a 24-hour period, including snacks and beverages. Afterwards, compare examples of your students’ Daily Diet Logs to the food that was allotted to a sailor aboard Constitution in 1812. How is a sailor's daily diet different from a student’s? What has changed over time, and why? Take this activity a step further to include the intake of calories per day, comparing a student’s intake to an 1812 sailor’s, and even to a modern combat ration.