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A Look at Wartime Rationing

As I was looking through some old war-time magazines, I noticed how the ads and articles were geared towards how people at home could help in the war effort. I realized that, despite the current state of wars going on overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan, that my life has not been terribly challenged. I know a few soldiers who have done tours, but it isn’t like it was during WW2, with a young man from pretty much every family leaving home to serve his country. I’m sure that the massive amount of men deployed made it much harder to ignore the war effort, if you so chose to try.
If you’ve studied the wartime history, specifically what life was like at home, then you would know about rationing. Everyone was rationed, from meat to butter, cloth to metal. Families were only allowed to buy a certain amount of foods per week. This made planting a Victory Garden that much more important. Those garden veggies had to fill the gap between store-bought items. Women were only allowed a certain amount of fabric for dressmaking as well. This gave war-time garments their very identifiable style…and lead to a lot of re-purposing of old garments, especially bridal and formalwear.

Many products were changed to fit the rationing efforts. Silk was limited, so stockings were modified. Advertisers also played on the war effort themes, with the word victory showing up a lot. Here Kayser uses it for their stockings:

Men who weren’t away fighting still had to keep their socks up, so advertisers said carefully to still buy their products, but to make them last. Men are advised to rotate two pairs, so the elastic rests between wears.

Women entered the work force for the first time, pitching in to build airplanes and the bombs inside…but don’t be un-feminine while doing it! Here we see that the Hinds company only uses ingredients not needed for the war effort. We also see a scenario that would get a guy sued for harassment these days.

And finally, don’t be the jerk with spare change in his pocket! Buy War Bonds! What would the reaction of today’s magazine readers be if they were asked to contribute their extra funds to the war effort?