What was Rationed During World War 2 ?



After the year 2020 and all the problems everyone across the globe faced, we think we have seen it all. No toilet paper available, rationing of some foods and paper supplies, etc existed. However, your grandparents and great grandparents did suffer for several years many hardships during World War 2 years of the early 1940s. Everything from food to clothing to furniture was metered out in the most efficient ways possible.

Every nation faced different rationing of items. Great Britain had been at war since 1939 so by 1940 they started rationing butter, sugar and bacon. Each family had a Ration Book giving their name and location and what they were entitled to and when. Then rationed were canned fruits, vegetables and rice. Even just one egg was allowed per adult, so if an item such as cake that needed eggs was to be made, everyone had to save their allowed eggs to make the cake. To have vegetables in Britain you generally grew your own in a home garden. In England, many of the items were still rationed even after the end of the war in 1945 such as sugar until 1953, some sweets until 1950 and bacon until 1954.

The same came to be in the United States after the country entered the war in December 1941. The rationing for Americans began in May 1942, also using ration books. The first Americans had were called ‘sugar books’ but it covered not just sugar but other basic items. Soon added were rationing of bike and car tires, nylon, silk stockings, coal, shoes, cars, typewriters, gasoline, coffee, jams, meats, cheeses and fats (lard, butter, oil).

Your ancestors were given 64 ration points per month for fresh foods like meat and 48 for canned and bottled items, with more severe cutbacks for individual designations of coffee. In fact, the coffee allotment has been said by some to have been the hardest to deal with, a favorite drink of Americans. For example, canned goods were worth between 1 and 15 points per can.

Yes, it was hard on everyone, but it was considered ‘Sacrificing for the Common Good’ and it was everyone’s duty to do without.

Restriction in America finally ended in June 1947. Plenty of other goods remained in short supply for months after the war, thanks to years of pent-up demand. Before long, however, manufacturers had caught up, and Americans could buy all the butter, cars, and nylon hosiery they wanted. But meat supply was still low, so that was rationed for a few more years, until June 1954.

Photos: Rationing-being fair; Ration books; Using Ration stamps; Rationing cars and their use and Vegetable garden.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Those Who Served During World War 2

Time Machine Yourself to 1940

Ancestors and Gardens

< Return To Blog Interesting and informative, as always! My parents talked about rationing. They were kids at the time.
Sara N Martin 23/01/21


Exactly, why these various bits of history should be included. Include in your family history, talk to relatives who lived during certain events, it is not just 'history' but your family history.
alice 23/01/21




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.