By 1918 the U.S. allies in World War I were experiencing severe food shortages. President Wilson established the Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, to “manage the wartime supply, conservation, distribution and transportation of food.” Americans were encouraged to cut back on their use of meat, wheat, fat, and sugar so that these food resources could be sent to our troops and civilian populations in Europe. The full text of most of the articles quoted below can be found in the Library of Congress database, Chronicling America. Images of the Santa Cruz Patagonian are available on The Patagonia Museum website: www.thepatagoniamuseum.org.
In late January of 1918 food restriction rules were publicized, affecting businesses and individuals, or as Herbert Hoover announced – Americans were put on a “War Bread Diet.” Specifically this meant that two days per week (Monday & Wednesday) were to be wheatless days, plus one meal of each day was to be wheatless. Wheatless meant “no crackers, pastries, macaroni, breakfast food, or other cereals containing wheat.” Also one meatless day in every week (Tuesday), and one meatless meal in every day was required in addition to two porkless days (Tuesday & Saturday). Meatless was defined as “without hog, cattle or sheep products”; porkless meant “without pork, bacon, ham, lard or pork products” (The Bisbee Daily Review, 1/27/1918). Due to a worldwide sugar shortage, sugar was rationed. “The larger use of sorghum, corn and cane sirup [sic.], maple sugar and sirup and honey is urged” (Santa Cruz Patagonian, 3/15/2018).
Local papers featured stories with recipes and advice for coping with the restrictions and the rationing. The baking of “Victory Bread,” which used 20% less wheat flour by substituting other grains, was encouraged at home and required of bakeries. Victory gardens were promoted, church congregations pledged to go totally without wheat
from June to September, and the deprivation even inspired poetry:
My Tuesdays are wheatless
My Wednesdays are meatless
I’m getting more eatless each day
My house is all heatless
My bed it is sheetless
They’ve been sent to the Y M C A
The bar rooms are treatless
My coffee is sweetless
Each day I get poorer and wiser
My socks they are footless
My pants they are seatless
But my Lord how I do hate the Kaiser
(Albuquerque Evening Herald)
The nation’s efforts were successful. “In spite of a subnormal food supply in this country, the American people have been able to ship to the Allies as well as our own forces overseas 141,000,000 bushels of wheat, besides 844,000,000 pounds of meat, during the year ending June 30 last. This has been made possible by the whole souled co-operation of the people, who, besides practicing self-denial, have speeded up production and responded nobly to the appeal from abroad” (The Border Vidette, 8/24/1918). By September the wheat restrictions were relaxed a bit and “Victory flour,” which was pre-mixed with 20 per cent substitutes, was entering the market (The Border Vidette, 9/14/1918). The Food Administration became the American Relief Administration after WWI ended to continue providing food supplies to Europe until 1921 and during the Russian famine from 1921-1923.