Most people can’t get their day started without a good cup of coffee in the morning. Some people depend on coffee throughout the day. But can you imagine having to go without it? Or at the very least having to cut way down on the amount you drink?

That’s the way it was during World War Two. About one third of the common things Americans eat and drink were rationed at some point during the war. Meat, sugar, butter, milk, processed foods, vegetables. Sugar continued to be rationed for two years after the end of the war. A popular slogan during the war was “Do With Less So They’ll Have Enough.”


Food was just a part of the rationing effort. Gasoline, oil, kerosene, tires, even rubber footwear. President Roosevelt launched a drive to round up unused rubber hoses, tires, even bathing caps because the Japanese had captured and were in control of the main source of rubber. Things like stoves, cars, bicycles and typewriters were scarce.


Rationing was a way to assure that items would be distributed fairly and it also gave priority to the military for a lot of raw materials.


Could you survive on a pound of coffee for five weeks? It works out to less than one cup a day. Everyone over the age of 15 was allowed a rationing coupon for that amount. Some people stretched it out by reusing old grounds in what became known as “Roosevelt coffee”. Some people used less and percolated it longer. People who didn’t drink coffee became very popular because they could give their rationing coupons away to friends.


Coffee rationing during World War Two began on this day in 1942.


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