Global World War II
Rationed Items List
and Timeline

September 1939
Germany - food rationing introduced.
December 1939
Great Britain - meat rationing begins.
January 1940

Great Britain - bacon, sugar and butter put on ration list.
February 1941
Japan - rice rationing introduced.
June 1941

Great Britain - announcements that preparation for the rationing of clothing has begun.
May 1942

United States - gasoline rationing begins in seventeen states. Gasoline is limited to 3 gallons per week for "nonessential" vehicles.
August 1942

United States - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) first mentions "Meatless Days" as a possibility for the American people. Three days after FDR's speech, the Secretary of Agriculture announces meat rationing may become necessary.
October 1942

United States - fuel oil rationed in most parts of the country. FDR granted power to control wages, salaries and agriculture prices.
November 1942
United States rations coffee.
December 1942

United States - gasoline rationing is introduced in all parts of the country.
February 1943
United States experiences shortage of butter.
May 1943
Canada - meat rationing introduced.
July 1943
United States ends coffee rationing.
May 1944

United States - removal of meat rationing in all cuts of meat with the exception of steaks and certain choice cuts of meat.
December 1944

United States - all cuts of meat once again rationed.
December 1944
United States ends butter rationing.
December 1945
United States ends ration on tires.
June 1947
United States ends sugar rationing.
February, 1949
Great Britain - clothes rationing ended.

Notes on Rationing in the United States, World War II:

     In the United States during World War I, the use of an allotment system for food and supplies was mostly voluntary. However, World War II was another matter. The federal government set up the system of laws used throughout much of the war. It was used to assure American soldiers and citizens both received a fair distribution of goods. Rubber, which was first conserved voluntarily, became scarce due to Japan's successful invasion of Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. President Roosevelt instituted a "scrap drive." He asked the American people to turn in "old tires, old rubber raincoats, old garden hose, rubber shoes, bathing caps, gloves," etc. at local gas stations. The stations paid the public one cent per pound for the items and then were reimbursed by the government. This campaign instilled patriotism but did not forestall rationing. It was instituted early in 1942.

     Gasoline was the next rationing target. May 14, 1942, a direct result of German U-boat attacks in the Atlantic Ocean, marked the day motorists in seventeen Eastern states had their gas usage restricted. It was expanded to the rest of the nation in December, 1942. Ration stamps were issued and pasted to an automobile windshield. A person's gasoline allotment was determined by the class of stamp displayed. Class of stamp was determined by the primary use of the car. There were four classes to begin. Class A received the least amount of gas because the car usage was deemed "nonessential"; Class B cars belonged to people who needed them for work (travelling salesman); Class C cars usually belonged to doctors and law enforcement persons; Class X was discontinued after it became a popular target of criticism. This class was for "very important people," such as Senators and Members of the House of Representatives.

     Food prices were monitored (and high ceilings set) by the Office of Price Administration (OPA). About one third of civilian food items were rationed during a majority of the war. The OPA issued "ration books." These books, containing the red, green, brown or blue stamps, were administered at the local level by volunteer rationing boards. Registration began in April of 1942. One member of each household registered themselves and each additional household member with the board. The person performing this task was required to list supplies on hand. They received a book for each member of the household. Coffee stamps were taken from the books of children under the age of fifteen and books required to be turned in for departing servicemen. Shoppers had to get used to reading price tags including not only a dollar and cent amount, but a figure for "points". Points were valued by the color of the stamp in addition to the points. ( Ham would have been 51 cents and 8 points per pound, canned and bottled good varied...a can of tomato juice was 16 points and a 14-ounce bottle of catsup was 8 points): red stamps for meat (except poultry , which was not rationed), butter, fats, cheese, canned milk, and canned fish; green, brown or blue stamps for canned vegetables, juices, baby food and dried fruit. A shopper could earn two extra red points for every pound of meat drippings and other fat turned in. This was part of a "save-fats campaign." In addition to these measures, people planted "Victory Gardens" to supplement fresh vegetables and to can or preserve for colder months. Those living in rural areas kept chickens both for eggs and meat. And lucky was the family in possession of a cow or goat!

Return to 'And She Could Cook...'     KanColl