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.
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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
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!”
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!
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.
“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
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”
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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