See what pirates ate at sea

Pirate life is exciting. Many of us have an idea of an adventure-filled, swashbuckling life, based in part on "Pirates of the Caribbean," but the actuality was considerably less glamorous.

 pirates active on the open seas between 1650 and 1720 (via Royal Museums Greenwich) had a short, cramped, unpleasant existence marked by ship rats and fleas, illnesses, and infections that often ended in amputation.


With unhygienic facilities, dirty clothes, and rival ship attacks, the pirate lifestyle was not enviable, especially if you loved to eat.

Bread, steak, and butter or cheese were 18th-century British sailors' staples.


National Geographic reports that the sailors' major caloric intake was a gallon of beer per day, which, coupled with rum, kept better than water on long voyages.

Hardtack, a dried flour-and-water dough, was plagued with insects after a few weeks at sea.

And sailors might craft buttons and belt buckles from salted and dried meat.

Due to a shortage of fruits and vegetables in their diet, sailors often had scurvy (per CultureMap), which can cause weakness, bleeding gums, and rotting teeth (NHS).

Poor hygiene and a lack of medicine caused scurvy and other diseases that killed most sailors before age 30.

Unexpected ingredient swap saves biscuits

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