April 1, 2013
A Hearty Breakfast
By Barbara Schock
Many experts in the
field of nutrition contend breakfast is the most
important meal of the day. Because it is the first
one consumed, it is expected to provide the energy
needed to get through the morning. In these times,
it is often given short shrift, largely because of
In the 1890s, during Carl Sandburg’s boyhood,
breakfast received the attention it deserved.
However early one went off to work, one made sure
to have a hearty meal. To be sure, it was not
always composed of the most healthful elements.
When Carl Sandburg was fourteen years old, he was
employed full-time delivering milk and newspapers.
He would arise at 5:30 a.m. His mother would serve
him buckwheat cakes, fried side pork, prunes or
applesauce and coffee. All over Galesburg, working
men began the day with similar meals. In addition,
most of them walked to their place of work in all
kinds of weather. Saving the price of a trolley
ride across town was important for the family’s
His father, August, ate a repast like his son’s
before setting off for work. It might also include
fried eggs. Although the meal was heavy in
calories, August Sandburg would have dissipated
them long before noon. He was employed in the
blacksmith shop of the Chicago, Burlington and
Quincy Railroad. His work involved almost constant
use of a sledge hammer.
There were a number of men in Galesburg whose
employment was more sedentary. However, many of
them ate morning meals even more substantial and
calorie laden. As a consequence, their girth
increased, and their life expectancy diminished.