Find: Food Will Win the War!

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When the United States entered World War I in the spring of 1917, President Wilson asked Herbert Hoover to head the US Food Administration, which would regulate American food from the ground up to ensure there was enough for both American and Allied troops as well as for the citizens of Allied nations experiencing food shortages. Although in reality Hoover predominantly accomplished this through extensive government involvement in the market, his best-known and most publicized method was a public campaign to involve everyday Americans in voluntary food conservation, which quickly became known as “Hooverizing.”

The food conservation effort, with its slogan “Food will win the war,” encouraged Americans to embrace self-denial for a greater good. However, the Food Administration frequently emphasized that it wasn’t suggesting Americans do without, simply voluntarily decrease their consumption of foods needed for the war effort (particularly meat, wheat, sugar, and fats) by substituting other foods instead. Americans were also encouraged to “lick the platter clean” (reduce food waste) and to buy less food by growing “war gardens” and raising chickens in their backyards.

Hoover’s efforts during the war proved successful, and America was able to decrease domestic food consumption by 15 percent and provide $1.4 billion of food aid to Europe over the course of a year.

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Interested in learning more about Hooverizing? Newspapers.com has thousands of articles, editorials, advice columns, poems, cartoons, ads, and propaganda pieces related to the WWI food conservation effort. Not to mention many recipes to help Americans comply with the Food Administration’s guidelines on conserving food (particularly wheat).

Take a look at some of these Hooverizing recipes you can find on Newspapers.com (and maybe even try out a couple):

Find more items about Hooverizing by starting a search on Newspapers.com!

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10 thoughts on “Find: Food Will Win the War!

  1. WOW!!! What an interesting historical article. Occurred before I was born but I think a lot of those teachings came in handy during the Depression in the ’30s.

  2. My grandmother was still making “War Cakes” into the late 50s early 60s, made with no butter and no eggs, but they were really good. Raisins and shortening or lard provided the moisture for these, she made them as cupcake size so all the grandkids could share and take some home with them.

  3. Thank you for this enlightening information. In 1907 my paternal grandfather purchased a spacious seaside cottage in Virginia Beach for his growing family. My dad, born in 1911, was the second-youngest of ten children. The diary of an older sister recounts the fact that each of the children were assigned a plot of land on the city block purchased by my grandfather across the street from their oceanfront home. As a youth, Dad raised chickens and proudly supplied the family with eggs, while his older siblings tended livestock and planted gardens on their plots. I now understand that their enterprise was an outgrowth of Hooverism.

  4. One of the earliest enterprises in GRASSHOPPER FALLS, Kansas, was a man by the name PIAZZEK; his son moved to Kansas City and was appointed by Pres. Hoover to assist in the Food problem mentioned above. We have a medal given this man for his efforts and on display at the VALLEY FALLS Historical Soc. Museum—–the name of our city was changed around 1872 from GRASSHOPPER FALLS to VALLEY FALLS !!!!!

  5. Very nice article. I love reading these types of articles from around when my grandparents were born.

  6. Is there any evidence that decreasing food consumption by 15% made food any more available for the troops? I am wracking my brain for any sensible connection. The main effect would seem to be that food might be a bit cheaper for the government to buy, at the expense of farmers’ livelihoods.

    • If I recall correctly, the 15% saved was shipped overseas to help feed our allies so the farmers shouldn’t have been impacted.

  7. Didn’t Hoover do this again for Truman after WWII? In a successful effort to feed devastated Europe?

    • Indeed, Hoover was asked back. Truman appointed Hoover honorary chairman of the Famine Emergency Committee in 1946, a role which sent him across the globe to procure rations for the needy and homeless impacted by WW2.

      It seems that the vituperative partisanship of recent history wasn’t quite so strong then. Truman even re-named Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam.

  8. Wow! New gluten free recipes to try that don’t require expensive or strange flours! Thanks!

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