What? I gotta have a stamp to buy that steak?

Posted by on May 13, 2008

Evidently, food rationing is back! I heard on the radio about the Costco move to limit rice purchases in the last fee weeks. Heard about that? See Here for more details.

Anyway, so it got me thinking about food rationing in World War II. The concept of stamps and points for food and other purchases would be a drastic change for most Americans today. It would for me, how about you?


Basically, during the war, civilian production, other than essentials, came to a stand still. Remember, in 1942, the government said there would be no more civilian automobile production. That’s it folks, NO MORE CARS! Besides that, rubber production was all going to the armed services anyway. This spread to civilian goods, mixers, electrical products, etc. I have yet to mention food, which was a biggie.

As Americans, we (me, you, us) have become accustomed the the plentiful food available to us today. During the war, you could only purchase so many things, and you had to have points or stamps to even do that.


Here’s a quote from The Good War, by Studs Terkel. In this excerpt, he is talking with George Page:

“…Sugar was rationed during the war. I learned to use honey as a substitute. It wasn’t rationed and I was able to keep all the bees of California busy….The price of honey was frozen, so they could charge only five cents a pound for it…”

One of the biggest issues, and no doubt, one you might be familar with, was the black market. That is purchasing goods without stamps and at inflated prices. This was a constant battle, and the government spread the message of NOT doing this throughout the popular media.


Meat also was rationed. When it was available, it went fast!


I’ve assembled some great links that will point you in the direction for more information as well as some good pictures of ration books, stamps, etc. Try ’em out to get a complete picture…and try to imagine the same thing happening today!

Have a great day, see you tomorrow!


Ames Historical Society (ration books, stamps, images)

The Home Front War

Genealogy Today (Article on Rationing)

Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen


(1-4) Nara


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