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Julian Billings

Sapna Iyer


May 17, 2017


The past 72 years have slithered into the history books as an unprecedented period of

overall world peace. A progressive time, a shift in global demographic favor towards

individuality; a split from the mainstream and the destruction of the ways of old. The

counterculture movement of the 1960s was a stark juxtaposition to the unrivaled nationalistic

unity of wartime America. On an industrial level, production of product and the level of

productivity among civilians, especially women and children, has never been greater.

Entire industries banded together, bound by military contractors, they worked hand in

hand to create all of the frontline supplies that soldiers needed to succeed. Ford and Chevrolet

produced tank engines, Colt and Springfield manufactured weapons for one another, and, most

importantly, companies like Nabisco and Kellogg’s worked together to produce consumable field

rations for soldiers. The first massive development ration was the active combat “C-Ration”.

Referred to as the “C-Rat” by American frontmen. The draw to the adoption of the C-Ration in

active combat was its mother load of calories. Each ration contained about 4,000 calories worth

of food. It was composed of a B-unit and an M-unit, weighing in at a whopping 7 pounds. The

contents of the each unit follows:

B-unit (Breakfast): (3) 12 ounce cans of bread, coffee and sugar.

M-unit (Dinner/Supper): (3) 12 ounce cans of meat and vegetable components.

The components of the C-Ration were quite numerous compared to other rations, and as a

result were quite bulky. The ration wasn’t well liked as a daily use provision because of its size,

though the “C-Rat” did leave its mark on soldiers, many who returned from combat remembered

the breakfast component of the ration fondly, and considering its original developmental

purposes, it certainly rose above and beyond the call of duty. The C-Ration demand for

ingredients to meet its 4,000 calorie quota resulted in a nationwide rationing program for

civilians. (Along with some very interesting propaganda posters.)

Items necessary to the production of rations like meat, fats, sugar and wheat had

government restrictions placed onto them, and were purchased and distributed through the use of

coupons. (This led to the modern American food-stamp program.( According to The History

Channel, Restrictions on imported foods, limitations on the transportation of goods due to a

shortage of rubber tires, and a diversion of agricultural harvests to soldiers overseas all

contributed to the U.S. government’s decision to ration certain essential items. On January 30,

1942, the Emergency Price Control Act granted the Office of Price Administration (OPA) the

authority to set price limits and ration food and other commodities in order to discourage

hoarding and ensure the equitable distribution of scarce resources. By the spring, Americans

were unable to purchase sugar without government-issued food coupons. Vouchers for coffee

were introduced in November, and by March of 1943, meat, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned

milk and other processed foods were added to the list of rationed provisions. Coupons were often

provided to citizens by a neighborhood coupon delivery boy, who was volunteered by his

parents. People who participated honestly in the rationing effort, contributed to America’s war

effort as a whole, though none were more important to the production of rations and machinery

than young women. While women worked in a variety of positions previously closed to them,

the aviation industry saw the greatest increase in female workers. More than 310,000 women

worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, representing 65 percent of the industry’s total

workforce (compared to just 1 percent in the pre-war years). The munitions industry also heavily

recruited women workers, as represented by the U.S. government’s “Rosie the Riveter”

propaganda campaign. Based in small part on a real-life munitions worker, but primarily a

fictitious character, the strong, bandanna-clad Rosie became one of the most successful

recruitment tools in American history, and the most iconic image of working women during

World War II; and iconic images of the idealistic war born generation of Americans is all

millennials such as myself will ever experience of that time period. We live in an interestingly

turbulent time.

The United States had bolstered its military since the 1960s, seemingly to combat threats

that simply weren’t there. This is apparent through America’s involvement in The Vietnam and

Korean Wars, the “War on Drugs” which has raged since the 1970s, and now, “The War on

Terror”. These wars did not see America combating a definite enemy like wars past, but rather,

they saw America combat ideals, and its own identity. In a country that is free for ideals and

principal to develop and govern lives, perhaps, to find togetherness within the idealistic disunity

of our turbulent times, we should look to the past for a solution to the future.

Works Cited

"C-Ration." MREinfo. N.p., n.d. Web.

"American Women in WWII." History. N.p., n.d. Web.

Schumm, Laura. "Rationing in Wartime America." History. N.p., 23 May 2014. Web.