California Gold Rush Fare

Recently, I was doing some research on what Americans were eating before we started cramming processed garbage down our throats. An issue of Hutchings’ California Magazine published in December 1859 relates the following list as “the necessaries of life which is required for an eight day’s trip in the mountains.”  


8 lbs potatoes.
1 bottle whiskey.
1 bottle pepper sauce.
1 bottle whiskey.
1 box tea.
9 lbs onions.
2 bottles whiskey.
1 ham.
11 lbs crackers.
1 bottle whiskey.
1/2 doz. sardines.
2 bottles brandy, (4th proof.)
6 lbs sugar.
1 bottle brandy, (4th proof.)
1 bottle pepper.
5 gallons whiskey.
4 bottles whiskey. (old Bourbon)
1 small keg whiskey.
1 bottle of cocktails , (designed for a “starter.”)

Yes, that’s 14 bottles of whiskey, 1 small keg also, accompanied by 3 bottles of brandy, 1 ham, 1/2 (individual? cans?) sardines, some potatoes, onions, sugar, 2 bottles of hot sauce, and a shit ton of crackers.  I believe that’s a diet upon which I could subsist.  

Source: Hutchings’ California Magazine, p. 185, Vol 4, No. 6.  December 1859.