Ulysses S. Grant's Favorite Breakfast Was An Unusual Combination

Diving into the favorite dishes of renowned historical figures usually brings up some pretty fascinating finds. Take Audrey Hepburn, for example, who's beloved chocolate cake used almost an entire carton of eggs – or Alfred Hitchcock's favorite breakfast, which forced him to face one of his worst fears.

Examining the diet of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th U.S. president and commanding general in the Civil War, yields similarly riveting results. For breakfast, Grant munched on what many of us consume as a snack today: A cucumber soaked in vinegar, aka a pickle, along with a cup of coffee. This was before his White House days, and perhaps a reflection of his humble upbringing as a tanner's son in Ohio. But it's also said that Grant might have scaled back on his own breakfast to save the best rations (which may have included ... onions?) in the Union Army for his soldiers. The coffee and pickle combo makes for one highly acidic breakfast, but it was allegedly enough to power him through an argument with former President Andrew Johnson and the Union's first significant victory in the Civil War.

Grant's White House threw lavish dinner parties

It seems Grant ditched his pickle and coffee pairing once he entered the Oval Office. As told by The Clermont Sun, he did try to stick to his humble nature, as he initially brought an army cook into the White House. But his wife, Julia, quickly hired an Italian chef named Valentino Melah. Instead of briny cucumbers, Grant's breakfasts became lavish spreads of fried apples, steak, bacon, buckwheat cakes, flannel cakes (pancakes without sugar), and occasionally Spanish mackerel — although it seems he continued to down his daily cups of black coffee.

Unsurprisingly, the rest of the White House meals increased in extravagance when Melah moved in as well. At Grant's new dinner parties, everything from French vegetable soup to beef filets with potatoes and mushrooms were served, with some meals even climbing up to a whopping 29 courses. And yet, some of his favorite dishes were still fairly simple. The former president loved eating turkey for dinner (which his original military chef would make), and he was obsessed with rice pudding.