Velveeta for Victory in WWII

vintage WWII ad soldier and photo of nachos velveeta

(L) Vintage ad WWII Nash Kelvinator 1944

The cheesepocalypse is upon us and we are approaching ground zero!

Shell shocked Americans are going through a meltdown over the shortage of velveeta endangering the very lifeblood of their Superbowl nachos.

Jonesing for their liquid gold, it’s all out war as a deprived public frantically fumble in search of alternative recipes in time for the big game.

Time out!

We might want to hit the pause button and rewind to a time when food shortages, sacrifices and disruptions were a part of everyday life and not just an inconvenience for the Superbowl.

food Velveeta WWII war workers eating

“If you’re packing daily lunch for one of Americas defense workers be sure to note that Velveeta was rich in muscle building protein and milk calcium.”
(L) Vintage Photo Sealtest Booklet 1943 (R) Vintage ad Velveeta cheese 1944

During WWII Velveeta along with meat, sugar, dairy  and coffee had gone off to war.

And when it was available Velveeta was not a mere snack, food but a vital source of sound nutrition.

The depression had introduced Velveeta as a thrifty convenient food source, but it was during the shortages and rationing of WWII  that helped catapult this gooey cheese into the  hearts of Americans.

Food Fights For Freedom

WWII Food Fights For Freedom vintage ads

Two 1943 Vintage ads from Armour and Company offering suggestions to how to share precious food and conserve the vital food supply. “All of us must do all we can to protect the food supply and keep our home front healthy and strong. You have a responsibility in your own home. By careful buying, by efficient, thrifty use of your ration points, you can help make sure there will be enough meat and other necessary foods for everyone.”

Each of us on the home-front, was a vital part of the war effort. It was everyone’s job to conserve, avoid waste, play square and starve the black markets.

“Food fights for freedom” was the motto and American food  would be a big factor in winning the war

“Today food is one of Americas most important weapons. It’s the fuel of our fighting men and our fighting allies. It helps keep our home front healthy and strong. So all of us must do all we can to protect the food supply.”

vintage ad wwii soldiers unloading food supplies

“Twice as much food is going to the fighting fronts this year….because there are twice as many men to feed.”
“Even at that, we civilians here at home are still getting 3 out of every 4 plates of food we produce. And the men in our Armed forces are the best fed fighters in the world.”
vintage ad Crosley Corp. 1944

Uncle Sam had a big job to do to feeding our boys in the armed forces and supplying our Allies too.

Rationing was the only way the government could see to it that civilians got a fair share of food. Every man, woman and child got a ration book containing coupons with point values for different types of food. The one thing there wasn’t a shortage of was advertising explaining the importance of sacrifice.

“We folks on the home-front are still getting 75% of all the food in America,” explained one war worker in an ad promoting health for victory  “I know it takes a lot of chow for the boys in the service…but who rates it more!” Another thing, I’m all for shipping food to our allies and liberated countries because it saves a lot of lives. Shortages? They’re tough…but my wife’s learned to do with the foods she can get is okay by me.

“That’s the stout-hearted spirit that makes Food Fight For Freedom. There’s enough food in this country for everyone, if we learn to use it properly.”

Shortages and Rationing

vintage WWII ad Elsie the Cow illustration

In this 1943 ad, Elsie the Borden’s cow tries to explain to her husband Elmo the reason for shortages and rationing. Much of the milk Bordens produced went to our armed forces and our allies. And the milk must be used to make other concentrated dairy products like cheese.
Exhibiting good old American optimism, Elsie goes on to say: “Think of the things we have to cheer about. This year may not have been a picnic but it hasn’t been so bad. We’ve had enough to wear and we’ve had enough to eat.”

Cheese was one of the first to be drafted into service because of the government’s huge requirements of cheddar cheese.

Thousands of farmers and dairy hands had gone off to war making it hard to increase production and so there was a shortage. Men in the service drank more milk and ate more cheese than they did in civilian life.

“Great quantities of it were needed for our boys,”  cheese manufacturers like Kraft and Bordens  told us,  “ because cheese was such a grand and  easy way to feed milk nourishment to fighting men.”

In May 1942 sugar was rationed, followed by coffee , processed food, meat and dairy products making it a wartime challenge keeping a home-front family well nourished.

Women’s Double Duty

WWII food rations SWScan01587 - Copy

Home front Housewives deserved a heap of credit .In addition to devoting millions of extra hours to vital new work in factories and volunteer organizations they were doing a grand job in the kitchen…saving food points and not scrimping on nutrition

It was much harder to feed a family during wartime but housewives like Blanche Channing knew it could be done with careful planning and thoughtful shopping.

Before the war, budget conscious Blanche had counted on Velveeta for nutritious economical meals on a budget. Now besides her money, she had to count her ration points and budget her time.

Like most other home front housewives Blanche was doing double duty.

In addition to devoting extra hours to the Red Cross, Civilian Defense  and the USO  she had become a soldier of the kitchen. Her first order from Uncle sam  was to provide her family with foods that build strong bodies, steady nerves, and high morals

WWII Vintage Nutrition propaganda

Uncle Sam needed us strong so it wasn’t long before Health-For-Victory clubs sprang up across the country. Monthly meetings conducted by able home economists of local power companies distributing meal planning guides for point thrifty meals and giving women practical help on health building meals in spite of rationing.
To help folks eat the kind of food that keeps them healthy, Uncle Sam set up 7 basic food groups that everybody needed every day And milk and milk products was one of them.

It was our duty to stay healthy.

Taking on those extra shifts at the war plant and visiting the blood bank regularly was no problem for her husky husband Jim.

“That man of mine hasn’t lost a days work in 7 months,  she boasted. “Eating right and staying healthy pays off in our house even stepped up pace of war work can’t keep my husband down!”

Food Velveeta WWII Defense Plant

A home front soldier like Jim deserved something special when he got home! And Blanche saw that he got it!

The Channings may finally have been able to afford a juicy steak but there were no steaks to be had. Alternatives to those mouth-watering roasts that Jim hankered for had to be found.

It was the home front housewives  duty to be flexible and clever, to plan balanced menus that spread rationed foods thin. The trick was to make ration shrunk meals seem bountiful and appetizing and magazine articles were abuzz with ways to gussy up those plain meals.

Kraft along with nearly every major food company pitched in printing wartime pamphlets suggesting how their product could help the homemaker skimp on precious food like meat, sugar and fat and coffee

Ladies listen, A food shortage is no excuse for dull meals- not while Kraft cheeses are around

Despite there being a cheese shortage, eagle-eyed  Blanche could still find Velveeta on her grocers shelves from time to time. She was certain the processed cheese food would brighten up rationed meals!

 Victory Velveeta

Food Velveeta WWII vegetables ads illutration housewife 40s

Mrs Housewife has learned about food alternatives, how to stretch ration points and pack a lunch with plenty of pick up.
Time must be rationed by Americas Double duty woman
(L) Vintage ad 1942 (R) Vintage Velveeta ad 1944

V for victory Velveeta suggested plenty of ways to keep the mealtime eye and taste appeal and satisfy cravings and appetites while holding down the costs. T

Their colorful  ads all offered “plenty of luscious nourishing dishes to surprise the folks on days when meat is off the list. Put the joy of eating into rationed meals with cheese soufflés, omlettes rarebits sauces with cheese”

Because it was important to prepare balanced meals and keep America’s stamina up, Blanche could count on protein rich Velveeta to offer up wholesome hurry up snacks for kids and He-Man sandwiches for Jim’s  lunch box.

food velveeta 46 SWScan00970

“If you’re packing a daily lunch for one of America’s defense workers, one Velveeta advised,” be sure to note that Velveeta was rich in muscle-building protein, in milk calcium and vitamin A and G. “

“School lunches should have these protective food elements. So slice Velveeta or spread its golden goodness thick for those important away from home meals”

Waste Not Want Not -Velveeta to the Rescue

WWII Food Fights For Freedom Velveeta don't waste it save it

If you will save as little as a spoonful of food a day you will help shorten this war. Unless we stop the needless, careless waste in our homes, American won’t have enough food to go around!

In these vital times when food was so precious Blanche would never dream of wasting a spoonful of food or letting leftovers spoil in her refrigerator or her  pantry shelf. Every bit of food that came into her home was carefully used.

Admonished to not waste food, Velveeta promised to give new life to leftovers -any dish could be turned from plain to fancy with a gloppy cheese sauce

“Here’s way to squeeze extra nutrition out of your food points, make leftovers new and important and give your family better eating. Dress up your second day foods with Velveeta”

vintage ads food WWII

“Of course Kraft cheeses are rationed!” explained one ad.”The government wants everyone to get their fair share of these fine nourishing foods. So step up and insist on your share…put the joy of eating into rationed meals with Velveeta souffles, omlettes, rarebits and sauces with cheese”

Velveeta a “wonderful “buys” for your points and pennies” became the perfect dish for war-time nutrition, providing fine protein and concentrated nourishment.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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  3. sdaven5191

    I picked up a hard-bound 5-ring-binder style Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from 1943 several years back in a used book shop. Not only is it complete in and of itself, but it contains a last-minute-addition of a separately wrapped section of all-encompassing information on how to cook with all the War-time rationing involved. The writing, production, printing and physical addition of this section apparently delayed release, because there is an apology printed inside the War-time Rationing section explaining why. It covers absolutely everything you could want to know about how to physically deal with ration books, the rationale behind the concept of rationing, how to budget your points, how to substitute foods for others that are suddenly unavailable, and most of all, plenty of recipes for cooking with “new” foods, mostly ‘variety meats’ that you may have never dealt with before, as well as inspiration for “Meatless Tuesdays.” There’s recipes for baking sweets for the family, in spite of rationed sugar, fats and eggs, and what to make and how to package home-made goodies for the boys overseas so they hold up to the shipping process, and your favorite fella doesn’t end up with a box of unidentifiable crumbs, or worse yet, moldy ones. It’s a history book in and of itself, and one I have turned to from time to time when looking for recipes for “Basics” or just something a little different from the usual, mostly from the regular portion of the book. The beginning of the regular Meat section has always tickled me, as its first caveat involves always selecting a cut of meat that is well-marbled and with a nice generous covering of fat for best flavor and juciness!


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