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Rationing in World War II: A quick look

Image source: Reprorations.com

At the onset of World War II, America faced a number of serious challenges, including the general shortage in supplies and resources.  The government deemed it necessary to ration not only food but also gas and clothing during that period.  There was a call for people to conserve on everything because everyone, whether rich or poor, was affected by war and the sacrifices it entailed.

With the rationing program set into motion, the federal government saw the need to control supply and demand.  Some 8,000 rationing boards were created across the nation to administer the restrictions.  The American Woman’s Cook Book, for instance, had a wartime edition that promoted revised recipes and offered advice on dealing with food shortages.

Image source: SmithsonianMag.com     

There were various types of rationing that were implemented, including uniform coupon rationing, which provided equal shares of one commodity to all consumers.  Certificate rationing allowed individuals certain products after an application demonstrated need, such as tires, stoves, cars, and typewriters.  Rubber, on the other hand, was the first non-food item rationed.

A similar situation ensued in the United Kingdom, where many foodstuffs were rationed.  These items included milk, meat, eggs, cheese, and cooking fat.  Ration books were distributed to everyone in Britain, who then registered in a shop of their choice.  After they bought something, the shopkeeper marked their purchase off in the book.

While people generally gave up many material goods, there was also an uptick in employment, where individual efforts evolved into clubs and organizations attending to immediate needs.  Americans sought to maintain supply levels for the troops abroad, and efforts included scrap drives, taking on factory jobs, and donating goods.

John Eilermann lives in Chicago and is mostly fixated on baseball and soccer.  He is also deeply interested in World War II facts and memorabilia.  Learn more on this website.