1940s ration coupons

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  4. A taste of wartime rationing in 1940s product cookbooks

But it was the shortages of various types of food that affected just about everyone on a daily basis.

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Food was in short supply for a variety of reasons: much of the processed and canned foods was reserved for shipping overseas to our military and our Allies; transportation of fresh foods was limited due to gasoline and tire rationing and the priority of transporting soldiers and war supplies instead of food; imported foods, like coffee and sugar, was limited due to restrictions on importing. Every American was issued a series of ration books during the war. The ration books contained removable stamps good for certain rationed items, like sugar, meat, cooking oil, and canned goods. A person could not buy a rationed item without also giving the grocer the right ration stamp.

This meant planning meals carefully, being creative with menus, and not wasting food. More than 8, ration boards across the country administered the program. The shopkeeper was provided with enough food for registered customers. Purchasers had to present ration books with them when shopping so that the coupon or coupons could be cancelled as these pertained to rationed items.


In line with its business as usual policy during the First World War , the government was initially reluctant to try to control the food markets. When it did introduce changes, they were limited. In , it became illegal to consume more than two courses while lunching in a public eating place or more than three for dinner; fines were introduced for members of the public found feeding the pigeons or stray animals.

In January , Germany started unrestricted submarine warfare to try to starve Britain into submission. To meet this threat, voluntary rationing was introduced in February Bread was subsidised from September that year; prompted by local authorities taking matters into their own hands, compulsory rationing was introduced in stages between December and February as Britain's supply of wheat decreased to just six weeks' consumption. The government made preparations to ration food in , in advance of an expected general strike , and appointed Food Control Officers for each region.

In the event, the Trades Unions of the London docks organized blockades by crowds, but convoys of lorries under military escort took the heart out of the strike, so that the measures did not have to be implemented. When the Second World War began in September petrol was the first commodity to be controlled. On 8 January bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. Meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals , cheese, eggs, lard, milk, canned and dried fruit were rationed subsequently but not all at once.

In June the Combined Food Board was set up by the United Kingdom and the United States to coordinate the world supply of food to the Allies, with special attention to flows from the U. Almost all foods apart from vegetables and bread were rationed by August Strict rationing inevitably created a black market. Almost all controlled items were rationed by weight but meat was rationed by price. Fresh vegetables and fruit were not rationed, but supplies were limited. Some types of imported fruit all but disappeared. Lemons and bananas became unobtainable for most of the war; oranges continued to be sold, but greengrocers customarily reserved them for children and pregnant women who could prove their condition by producing their distinctive ration books.

Other domestically grown fruit such as apples still appeared from time to time. However, sellers imposed their own restrictions so that customers were often not allowed to buy more than one apple each. Many grew their own vegetables, greatly encouraged by the highly successful "Dig for Victory" motivational campaign. In many children between ages five and seven years had become used to the wartime restrictions. When questioned about bananas, many did not believe such items existed. Landed estate owners were able to enjoy game obtained on their property and share with their friends.

A taste of wartime rationing in s product cookbooks | National Museum of American History

A popular music-hall song, written 20 years previously but sung ironically, was " Yes! We Have No Bananas ". Most controversial was bread which was not rationed until after the war ended. The " national loaf " of wholemeal bread replaced the ordinary white variety to the distaste of most housewives who found it mushy, grey and easy to blame for digestion problems.

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This was partly in response to increasing public concerns that "luxury" off-ration foodstuffs were being unfairly obtained by those who could afford to dine regularly in restaurants. Fish was not rationed, but prices increased considerably as the war progressed. The government initially did not ration fish, for fishermen at risk from enemy attack had to be paid a premium for their catch in order to fish at all, but prices were controlled from Wartime fish and chips was often felt to be below standard because of the low-quality fat available for frying.

As the war progressed rationing was extended to other commodities such as clothing which was rationed on a points system. When it was introduced, on 1 June , no clothing coupons had been issued. At first unused margarine coupons in ration books were valid for clothing.

In the beginning the allowance was enough for about one new outfit per year; as the war progressed, the points were reduced until buying a coat used almost a year's clothing coupons. On 1 July the basic civilian petrol ration, announced on 13 March , was abolished [20] Ivor Novello , a prominent British public figure in the entertainment industry, was sent to prison for four weeks for misusing petrol coupons. Henceforth vehicle fuel was only available to official users, such as the emergency services, bus companies and farmers. The priority users of fuel were always, of course, the armed forces.

Fuel supplied to approved users was dyed , and use of this fuel for non-essential purposes was an offence. Certain foodstuffs that the s British consumer would find unusual, for example whale meat and canned snoek fish from South Africa, were not rationed. Despite this, they did not prove popular. In addition to rationing, the government equalized the food supply through subsidies on items consumed by the poor and the working class. Restaurants were initially exempt from rationing but this was resented, as people with more money could supplement their food rations by eating out frequently.

In May , the Ministry of Food issued new restrictions on restaurants: [23]. About 2, new wartime establishments called British Restaurants were run by local authorities in schools and church halls. They evolved from the London County Council 's Londoners' Meals Service , which began as an emergency system for feeding people who had been blitzed out of their homes.

They were open to all and mostly served office and industrial workers. Two weeks of intensive outdoor exercise simulated the strenuous wartime physical work Britons would likely have to perform. The scientists found that the subjects' health and performance remained very good after three months; the only negative results were the increased time needed for meals to consume the necessary calories from bread and potatoes, and what they described as a "remarkable" increase in flatulence from the large amount of starch in the diet.

Britons' actual wartime diet was never as severe as in the Cambridge study because imports from the United States avoided the U-boats, [26] but rationing improved the health of British people; infant mortality declined and life expectancy rose, excluding deaths caused by hostilities.


A taste of wartime rationing in 1940s product cookbooks

This was because it ensured that everyone had access to a varied diet with enough vitamins. The standard rations during the Second World War were as follows. Quantities are per week unless otherwise stated. Offal and sausages were only rationed from to When sausages were not rationed, the meat needed to make them was so scarce that they often contained a high proportion of bread.

Eggs were rationed and "allocated to ordinary consumers as available"; in thirty allocations of one egg each were made. Children and some invalids were allowed three a week; expectant mothers two on each allocation. Arrangements were made for vegetarians so that other goods were substituted for their rations of meat. Each consumer received one tin of milk powder equivalent to 8 imperial pints or 4.

Clothing rationing was announced on 1 June A major cause was the increased need for clothing materials to be utilized for producing uniforms. By this point in the war, one fourth of the population was wearing uniforms. Many of the female population who needed uniforms were part of the women's auxiliary forces. There were also a lot of volunteer services and organizations. The materials to make tarpaulins and tyres were heavily affected by this rationing. It also became difficult for civilians to get shoes and boots. Another major part of rationing was the implementation of a coupon system.

There were 66 points for clothing per year; in it was cut to 48, in to 36, and in to This system operated through a "points" system. Clothing was ranked and based on this ranking, civilians would be able to purchase clothing. Clothing rationing points could also be used for wool, cotton and household textiles. Before rationing lace and frills were popular on knickers but these were soon banned so that material could be saved. The number of points that each piece of clothing would be valued at was determined by not only how much labor went into making it, but also how much material was used.

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A dress could run someone 11 coupons, whereas a pair of stockings only cost 2. In , an overcoat wool and fully lined was 18 coupons; a man's suit, 26—29 according to lining ; Children aged 14—16 got 20 more coupons. When purchasing clothing not only did civilians need to have coupons, but they also had to purchase things with money. No points were required for second-hand clothing or fur coats , but their prices were fixed. People had extra points for work clothes, such as overalls for factory work.