You know those special days when you take the time to enjoy a real meal during your lunch break? It’s a lovely little recess from a day of hard work, but with all the delicious food in your stomach it can be hard to jump back in or even keep your eyes open once you return to the office. It’s all you can do to keep from crawling under your desk for a nap. Well, for obvious reasons, if you were a pilot during the very early years of aviation, these extended lunches followed by a quick siesta would not have been options. Amelia Earhart had that all figured out, which is why she had a strict food rules for herself while flying.
According to a recent NPR piece, Earhart had come up with three key rules that dictated what she ate while flying. The first was that she must eat enough to give her energy but not so much that she would become tired. Anyone who has had to pinch themselves to stay awake during an afternoon meeting understands how important this balance would be to a pilot in those days. The second rule she made sure to follow was that her food must be easy to eat. Earhart herself explained in a 1930s interview, "Since pilots have only two hands and dozens of things to do, mealtime technique has to be simple." No cutting up a steak dinner while flying across continents for this woman.
The final guideline Earhart followed was that the food she packed must not weigh too much. The less she carried with her, the more room for fuel she had in her aircraft. According to NPR, the pilot once told her husband, "Extra clothes and extra food would have been extra weight and extra worry. A pilot whose land plane falls into the Atlantic is not consoled by caviar sandwiches." Point taken, Earhart.
So with these three rules in mind, what foods did Amelia Earhart settle on for her long journeys in the air? Tomato juice was her most-trusted staple. The liquid could be sipped easily through a straw and enjoyed hot in a thermos if the weather was cold. NPR reports that in addition to tomato juice, the pilot also used chocolate, raisins, and hot cocoa as sustenance. And, on her flight to New York from Mexico City in 1935, she mostly ate hard-boiled eggs. Clearly — and understandably — this pioneer of aviation was eating to live and not living to eat. At least she had the chocolate.