A Project of the USS Constitution Museum

A Project of the USS Constitution Museum


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Each day, dinner was served from Constitution’s large iron stove, called the camboose. Meat had been boiling for hours to remove some of the salt that preserved it. Large pots gurgled with dried peas or rice cooking. And no doubt there would be bread–ship’s biscuit–with every meal.  It was as hard as a rock, but it helped give sailors the calories they needed.


Cook Ship’s Biscuit

Biscuit was hard bread that Constitution’s sailors ate at nearly every meal. It was baked on land, stored on board the ship, and then issued at sea to the sailors. It kept for a long time in barrels and there is one in the Museum’s collection that has survived over 100 years.  Sailors soaked biscuit in their stew, and it was also used as an ingredient in many shipboard-recipes.

Activity: Ship’s Biscuit Recipe

Object: Ship’s Biscuit from Constitution


Cook Sailor Treats

Enjoy a sailor’s treat with your students. Try a recent adaptation of duff, a sailor’s pudding, originally made with suet and flour. You can also try hot chocolate, another treat, this time with an 1812-period recipe.

Activity: Sailors Duff Recipe

Activity: 1812 Hot Chocolate Recipe


The Cook, William Long

Feeding 450 hungry sailors is no easy task. It’s especially tough when Constituition has been at sea for a month, and supplies are salted or dried. Cook William Long does his best, sweating and swearing at a huge hot beast of a stove in the galley. The food he serves changes little each day, but it’s hot and plentiful. And though seamen moan about the endless dull dishes, they eat better than their families ashore.

Sailor’s Story: William Long, Cook


A Sailor’s Diet in Weights and Measures

Students practice their weights, measures, volumes and charts in this lesson plan. Read a primary source with students and then measure real ingredients with scales and beakers to see the real daily diet quantities a sailor ate.

Lesson Plan: A Sailor’s Diet in Weights and Measures

Primary Source: Letter from Constitution sailor about food on board