Rationing: Making Do During WWII

American fighter plane rationing stamps used during World War II. (Image by Bill Faulk via Wikimedia Commons)
American fighter plane ration stamps used during World War II. (Image by Bill Faulk via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1940, food rationing began in Great Britain during World War II.

Here are some things you may not know about rationing.

Bacon, butter and sugar were the first foods to be rationed in the UK. This was followed by rations for meat, tea, jam, cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned and dried fruit.

Fresh fruit and vegetables were never rationed but were sometimes very difficult to come by.

In the United States, the first item to be rationed were car tires, followed by gasoline rationing, and the suspension of automobile sales in 1942. The first food item rationed in the U.S. was sugar. Coffee was next, followed by meat, lard, cooking fats, cheese, butter, margarine, processed foods, and so on. The gasoline rationing led to the cancelation of the Indianapolis 500 from 1942-45.

In the United States all rationing ended in 1946.

Rationing continued in the UK after the war, and in some cases was more strict. The bacon ration was cut from 4 ounces to 3 ounces a week. Bread rationing started in 1946 after rains ruined the domestic wheat crop. 1947 saw potato rationing. The Conservative Party came back into power in the 1951 election on the basis of ending rationing as quickly as possible. All food rationing ended on July 4, 1954. The rationing of dairy products nearly wiped out British cheese production, which didn’t recover fully until the 1980s.

Our question

What was the lowest amount of cheese allowed per person per week during British rationing?

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Today is War on Poverty Day, Bubble Bath Day and Argyle Day. It’s the birthday of Elvis Presley, David Bowie and physicist Stephen Hawking.

Now a look back on entertainment charts from 50 years ago.

In 1966, the top song in the U.S. was “We Can Work it Out” by The Beatles; the No. 1 movie was “Doctor Zhivago” and “The Source” by James Michener topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


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