The Social Experiment

This blog is about understanding and exploring what my Grandmothers experienced by living on the home front during World War II. I am going to be living, as best as I can, to the US rationing standards of 1945. This is a social experiment, not only to connect to my families past, but to explore new way to live environmentally and socially responsible. I hope to show, that by living as our grandparents did, we can reduce the amount of waste that our society throws out and live healthier and more simple lives.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


It has been so long since I have written… and I am learning that keeping a house, working and all that goes into life – especially when rationing – keeps a person’s life very busy. I cannot imagine what life would have been like for a 1940’s woman – especially if she had children. She probably had a job, and then also had to keep house and the clothing of everyone… and she would have to creatively cook 3 meals a day for her family. A never ending job….

That is where the joy of coffee comes in –

There is nothing better than the wonderful smell of coffee brewing in the morning. That lovely smell of freshly ground beans – and the beautiful gurgle of the coffee maker (would have been a vacuumed coffee maker then – or an old enamel pot that boiled it).

The trick is- each person, age 15 and older, was allowed one pound of coffee every 5 weeks. One pound of coffee for five weeks? This I was not sure I could survive.

I started making 8 cups of coffee each week day morning – just enough for a small cup of coffee with breakfast and the rest went in my thermos for work. (I also allowed myself one cup of hospital coffee each day – you can tell me if that was cheating or not – I mean… its Hospital coffee!)

After the first week- I realized that I needed to keep track of how many scoops of beans I ground each day. Soon I switched from a table spoon to a teaspoon measurement. Then I carefully counted out eight scoops. A few times there would be left over coffee that I could not drink in the morning… There was no way that I was going to throw it out – it is valuable… so I found myself pouring it into a jar in the refrigerator – and using it to make cold coffee when I came home (add a little milk, sugar (very little), and some vanilla).

Each day – that bag got lighter and lighter… I still have a few weeks to go – so I cut the beans down to 5 scoops – and I made less coffee (which meant that I bought more hospital coffee – not sure how to handle this because restaurants still had coffee… but often it was mixed with chicory.) I knew that I had fully embraced this endeavor to live out WWII rationing when I realized that I was on my hands and knees in the kitchen with a broom- trying to retrieve every coffee bean that had fallen under the fridge and stove… I got them all, brushed them off, and put them in the grinder for coffee!!!

I will state that I made it! It was a celebration when I went and bought another pound of coffee… the second week of October.

The history behind coffee rations – Coffee was the second thing to be rationed. It actually was rationed before the US was fully in the war – all because of the supply routes were cut off from South America, Indonesia, and Arabia. It was the same reason for the rationing of sugar – the raw ingredients could not be gotten as much – and it was patriotic to let the troops to have what they needed first.

No comments:

Post a Comment