Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WWII Rationing and Ketchup Thievery

During World War II, a host of consumer goods and foods were rationed. Among the latter category were sugar, coffee, meat, butter, cooking oils, vegetables and baby food. Consumables were assigned a point value by the Office of Price Administration (O. P. A.) and individuals and businesses were issued with ration books containing various values of point coupons which could be redeemed for rationed items. Because of rationing and the high point value placed on particular items, local restaurant owners at the time of the war were hard-pressed to maintain their pre-war level of quality and service, having to either limit portions on certain items or remove them from the menu altogether when they became unavailable. The rationing of ketchup appears to have caused some serious problems for at least one Middleborough restauranteur as documented in this brief news item carried in the Brockton Daily Enterprise on May 4, 1943:

There is another reason why the restaurant man wears a cold towel on his fevered brow ... in addition to getting the [ration] points with which to buy food for the customers.

Just to be nice to the customers a particular restaurant, which does a lot of business, is still supplying - or was - ketchup for the customers to douse over meats, etc., in spite of the high point value and the shortage of supply.

And this little stunt of being nice to the customers has proven to be an abused virtue, because the restaurant reports that as of Saturday night's customers, there were four to whose hands the ketchup stuck so securely that the bottles went out with the customers.

The big thought now is whether to put a chain on the bottle to secure it or to stop supplying ketchup free.

Heinz Ketchup advertisement, Woman's Day, October 1, 1946.

Brockton Daily Enterprise, "Ketchup Bottles May Be Chained", May 4, 1943.


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