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Coffee Rationing During World War 2

By Edited Aug 11, 2016 0 0

November can be a tough month for many since it is the beginning of the holiday season, and that intensifies the economical woes because consumers now have to learn to tighten the budget. Can you imagine going without coffee? Can you imagine having to make 1 pound of coffee last 5 weeks? The American public had to practice food rationing in World War 2; coffee rationing began in November, 1942.

The federal government decided to control supply and demand for the military effort. Although there was a great coffee bean crop from Latin America, the shipping cost was too high - our ships were needed elsewhere, so coffee rations in World War 2 resulted. Rationing created a significant impact on the America people which, in return, created a significant income on the outcome of the war.

Rationing is described as "1: to supply with or put on rations 2a: to distribute as rations - often used with out b: to distribute equitably c: to use sparingly" (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition). The definition really highlights one reason for rationing, to make it so public anger was avoided, meaning that rations were distributed equally. The wealthy weren't treated differently. Food, gas, clothes (nylons were a big loss), fuel oil, tires, and other goods became a sacrifice for all to do with less.

A major propaganda war effort was rolled out to control the masses, and get Americans to comply with rationing. Government sponsored ads, posters, pamphlets, and radio shows were used extensively. Some interesting slogans were:

ration ad
  • Buy War Bonds
  • Do With Less So They'll Have Enough
  • There's a War on, You Know!
  • Conserve Rubber!

It wasn't an easy time for the homefront. Not only did they have to cut way back on coffee, they had to keep figuring out the various point system, coupons, stamps and War Ration book.

Two stamps, red and blue authorized a food rationing portion. The red stamp was for; meats, butter, fats, oils and cheese. Some exceptions in each. The blue stamp was for; canned, bottled and frozen vegetables and fruits, juices, dried beans, soups, baby foods, and ketchup. Coupon books had different specifications (there was a point system for some coupons, too). They were used for clothing, shoes, coffee, gas, tires, and fuel oil. Plus the quantity and time designated for the goods made for some juggling. It makes cutting out coupons from the Sunday paper seem so easy, doesn't it?

Metal was needed so aluminum cans were the prime target for recycling. Recycle the aluminum so the troops will have more ammunition, was the thinking. At least recycling was promoted. I remember washing out plastic bags, and still do, although I don't enjoy it. It was part of my childhood upbringing. Not so tough compared to the World War 2 food and other rationing Americans struggling to comply with the hardships created from rationing. There weren't shortages before, they were diverted for the war effort.

Current economic considerations have prompted some advisors to suggest cutting back on the coffee shop coffee purchases, like Starbucks, to stretch the meager income. For some of us, that coffee purchase has always been a splurge anyway. However with the huge popularity of going out for a coffee, it may cause withdrawals for some not to get their fix as frequently as previous to this recession. Maybe remembering the coffee rationing during World War 2 will ease the pain.



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