In early 1942, the United States would increase the size of the Army by over 3.5 million soldiers by the end of the year. There were people who were concerned that the growth of the army would mean a loss of creature comforts to those at home. Perceived changes in food availability throughout the war years had an effect on the family. Rationing, the scarcity of resources, and the overall availability of certain products affected the prices of many staple goods in the United States. There were definite food availability problems and concerns related to the rising costs of food during WWII.
Publications of the US Army at Fort Monmouth – like The Signaleer reminded citizens to look for positive aspects of the food crisis. In May 1942, Americans reported to their local school districts to pick up the first issues of ration booklets. As more items became rationed, people hoarded items and supported a black market food operation.
The cycle of hoarding and rationing was self-perpetuating, and many items needed to be rationed because of the rush of people buying up as much as they could carry out of certain products. Indeed, rationing an item seemed to increase its desirability: coffee was hoarded long before it was on the ration list, and once it was, it became even more popular; when coffee rationing ended in 1943, sales plummeted.
Note: Adapted from a paper “Food and Family on the WWII Home Front” by Chrissie Reilly. For more on coffee at Fort Monmouth, check out our report on 1930s Clandestine Coffee Breaks!