Jul 13th, 2008 by Jennifer Lynn
How resourceful Americans kept it rational during World War II
Enormous sacrifices were required during the onset of World War II, as the American government conserved resources through the enactment of the Food Rationing Program of 1942, a regulation which affected Americans for over three years and limited the amount of commodities a consumer was allowed to purchase.
This and other governmental programs resulted in strict rational provisions on gasoline, clothing and food, among other staple products, and affected every American household in the early 1940′s.
For permissible purchase of affected goods, government stamps and tokens were issued based on family size and came enclosed in ‘war ration books’. The red and brown stamps in the war books covered meats, cheeses, butter, fat and oil, while blue and green stamps dealt with processed, bottled, canned and frozen products. Special ‘sugar buying cards’ were also introduced in 1943.
Each of these stamps authorized the purchase of rationed goods in specific quantity and time designation, and a point system was established.
Generated propaganda campaigns were broadcast through government-sponsored ads, posters, pamphlets and radio shows to urge patriotic Americans to obediently comply with their new circumstances of scarcity without complaint.
During this national period of sacrifice, factory jobs swelled as women were recruited en masse to aid in production of war supplies; meanwhile, thriving black markets emerged to meet additional consumer demand for sugar, gasoline and meat.
Americans were encouraged to grow their own Victory Gardens to further conserve and replenish food during the war, and approximately 20 million Victory Gardens accounted for 40% of American vegetables by 1945, according to US-history.com.
I was born during the ’80′s and just missed the economical recession of the 1970′s. Since I’m very young, my generation has never experienced a rationing like this before. I can’t help but wonder the probability of a similar situation arising in our current political environment. How would you have coped during this unique war-driven era, where overseas contention directly affected domestic responsibilities and consumption?
A country without a memory is a country of madmen. – George Santayana
The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes. – Mark Twain
I believe that history is capable of anything. There exists no folly that men have not tried out. – Karl Gustav Jung
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