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Herbert Hoover’s Meatless Wheatless World War I Diet 

By Nicholas Gilmore
via the Saturday Evening Post web site

So you’ve started a vegetarian, gluten-free diet, but did you remember to complete your pledge card to send to the U.S. Food Administration? This is — of course — no longer a reality, but 100 years ago it was, when Herbert Hoover suggested changes to the American diet to support the war effort.Alcazar CakeAlcazar Cakes made with potato flour. NARA/4-G-30-31

When Hoover became the “food czar” in April 1917 upon America’s entry into World War I, the U.S. Food Administration had been created to encourage patriotic conservation of certain ingredients for the war effort. Since his recent stint as chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, Hoover understood the logistics behind a large-scale food operation. In order to supply hearty non-perishables — beef, wheat, and sugar — to American soldiers and Allies overseas, Hoover’s USFA asked for cooperative sacrifice from civilians.

Hooverizing Housewives

“Meatless Tuesdays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” were part of the USFA’s Hooverization of America’s kitchens. By 1918, the administration claimed more than 10 million homes had submitted pledges to use potato flour, molasses, and chicken instead of wheat flour, sugar, or beef in their tried-and-true recipes.

Hoover’s culinary campaign also recommended its own recipes, cataloged by the National Archives. Pamphlets from the USFA urged homemakers that a pledge to their recommendations would not amount to skimpy cooking: “The word ‘save’ has been overemphasized in the public mind and the word ‘substitute’ overlooked.”

A Hoover-compliant dinner in 1918 might include a shark steak, potato bread, and greens from a family victory garden. For dessert, the tempting Lintz Tart called for rye flour, lemon zest, and cinnamon with an almond paste filling.

Read the entire article on the Saturday Evening Post web site:

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