How Rutherford B. Hayes Tricked White House Guests With 'Spiked' Punch

We know all about the follies and foibles of the more recent presidents, from JFK's womanizing ways through Bill Clinton's issues with interns (well, one particular intern) and Donald Trump's alleged "Stormy" relationship with an adult film actress. The peccadilloes of earlier presidents, however, have long ago faded from memory. As, in many cases, have the presidents themselves. Can you name any fun facts whatsoever about Rutherford B. Hayes? Did you even know that he was a past president? Yes, in fact, he was the 19th, occupying the White House from 1877 to 1881, per the official WH website. By all accounts, he wasn't really one for scandal-making. In fact, he comes across rather G-rated.

Perhaps the biggest "scandal" of Hayes' presidency, at least on a personal level, occurred when he attempted to fool his guests into thinking they were boozing it up at a White House bash when, instead, they really weren't drinking alcohol at all. In case you're a bit shaky on your dates, we'd like to point out that Prohibition wasn't enacted until 1920, nearly 40 years after the Hayes administration came to an end. Teetotaling (or abstaining from alcohol) was a popular stance with some at the time, though, in response to the truly epic boozing that was endemic amongst the rest of the populace. Hayes, according to theĀ Shapell Manuscript Foundation, was such a dedicated non-drinker that he didn't mind resorting to trickery to get others to lay off the booze, too.

Rutherford B. Hayes used rum flavoring to fake out would-be drinkers

The Hayes-era White House was apparently an intoxicant-free zone, occupied as it was by the teetotaling president and his wife, "Lemonade Lucy." In fact, a letter in the Shapell Manuscript Foundation's collection indicates that Hayes may not really have understood certain aspects of drinking culture. He refers to a popular drink of the time, Roman Punch, as "swindling spoon victuals" that "contain ... no rum or other spirits but are merely flavored with juniper or the like." In fact, according to a recipe dating from the Hayes administration (via Food 52), Roman Punch was usually made with both champagne and rum.

On one occasion, Hayes' critics thought they'd caught him in an act of hypocrisy when he served his guests oranges that were infused with a supposedly boozy punch. Hayes, however, revealed that the punch was merely rum-flavored. A thread on r/todayIlearned found Redditors to be highly amused by this antique incident, with comments such as, "That's why they called him Rutherford B 'Crazy," and "Now we know why Rutherford was forgotten. Grandma didn't allow his name be spoken in fear of bringing up that dinner party." One Redditor even admitted to a similar subterfuge, speaking of making "a very elaborate egg nog" and making sure to leave a large number of empty rum bottles on the counter while doing so. The twist? "The egg nog," they revealed, "didn't have a drop of booze in it. All rum extract." So if you need a new party ruse, there you go.