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What Did President Truman Have With His Breakfast?

Breakfast as we know it started in the early 19th century when the working class began adapting to regular office hours. Before this, people would work for a few hours, then have a meal by 10 am. But what makes former President Truman’s breakfast extra special?

Former President Harry Truman started his mornings at 5. He had a typical big breakfast with the usual; eggs, toast, and bacon. He also took a shot of Old Grand-Dad bourbon. He claimed that the shot got his engine running. 

History of Bourbon

Congress officially recognized bourbon as America’s Native Spirit. The revered drink by many is made from a mash of 51% corn, and the rest would be a mixture of barley, rye, or wheat. Bourbon has to come from America, specifically from Kentucky, and be aged in New American oak barrels.

The history of America’s favorite alcohol is peculiar and has been disputed throughout history. There had been accounts of how bourbon actually came from the French dynastic royal family, known as the house of Bourbon. Quite close to the lineage of Louis XIV and XVI.

But the most likely origin of the drink is that it was created in Bourbon, Kentucky, around the nineteenth century. It was known during that time that many European migrants settled and farmed the Kentucky land and were the ones responsible for bringing the knowledge of distilling corn into the drink we know today. (Source: The Manual)

Soon, the liquor became popular since it was cheaper and easier to distill. It was more affordable since it was made inland, compared to the other alcohols that had to be imported. It was easier to make due to the abundance of corn in the area at that time.

President Harry Truman’s Morning Ritual

David McCullough, the Pulitzer awardee for his biography of former President Harry Truman, noted that Truman was an early riser. He usually starts his day at 5 am, with a shot of bourbon per his doctor’s approval. Truman’s choice of bourbon is the Old Grand-Dad, saying that it got the engine running. (Source: Memphis Flyer)

Sometimes the shot of bourbon would be accompanied by a large glass of orange juice. Truman then proceeds with his morning exercise, which is brisk walking around Little White House, and Truman was very strict with his 128 paces per minute walk around the ten blocks of the compound. His brisk walk is usually about two miles. He would then enjoy an egg, a slice of toast, a piece of bacon, and skim milk. (Source: Truman Little White House)

Old Grand-Dad Bourbon

Truman’s bourbon of choice was the cheap local Old Grand-Dad. The brand has been in existence for many years, created by Raymond B. Hayden in 1882. Hayden was the third generation of bourbon distillers in his family. He named his bourbon brand after his grandfather, Basil Hayden, Sr., the first generation of distillers in their household. (Source: Vine Pair)

The Old Grand-Dad is classified as a straight bourbon, 100 proof, made from 63% corn, 27% rye, and 10% malted barley. The normal aging is four years and is now distilled and distributed by Jim Beam, under the Beam Suntory company. (Source: Breaking Bourbon)


The drink was known to be one of only a handful of brands prescribed by doctors in the Prohibition era. At that time, physicians thought the bourbon would help patients who had high blood pressure, pneumonia, and digestive issues. (Source: Vine Pair)

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