“Ration Books and Tripe”

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My mother spoke from time to time about living in New York City during World War II and using ration books to buy food for my father and her. She said that although they might have a ration for meat, it didn’t mean that meat was available. Often the only meat she could find was tripe–the stomach of a cow. Despite her creative approaches to cooking tripe, she never recovered from the experience. Throughout our childhood if any one of us complained about any dinner, she would say “at least you aren’t eating tripe!”

I appreciated the public service poster I have shown above because it shows that shoppers in the 1940’s were no more considerate than today’s toilet paper hoarders. Without the intervention of the federal government there not only would not have been food for the troops, but that at home might have been unfairly distributed. Price gouging also plagued the country at that time, so price control legislation was enacted.

I appreciate that so many are sharing positive stories at this time about people going out of their way to help each other. But the hoarding and price gouging are running rampant. Not only did citizens buy up needed supplies for hospital workers, but companies are happily gouging states, such as ours, trying to buy necessary equipment for health care. And no, except for the Surgeon General asking people not to buy their own masks, there has been no legal barrier to doing so. And no, there seems to be no penalty for bidding wars between states for supplies.

I never understood why rationing and price controls were put into place when my mother was a newlywed. I do now.

33 thoughts on ““Ration Books and Tripe”

  1. I always expected people to be decent too, and always thought that they kept ‘the good people’ at the next phase of my life: maybe I’d find them in kindergarten, then maybe in grammar school, then maybe in high school, then maybe in college…it seemed like I always wanted people to be better than they were, and I was really a decent person. Eventually I think I got worse though, and others got worse too. I hope we all get better soon!

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  2. I’m with you, completely. Although my mother was only a child in the war, her sense of ‘waste not, want not’ remained. We always had to finish everything on our plates and she never wasted food. I wonder if people have a fear of having to struggle, having to go without. I wonder if this is basic caveman behaviour of needing to fight to have food and therefore survive rather than the ‘civilised’ society that we thought we lived in? I don’t know the answers, but sometimes I’m amazed by how kind people are and sometimes aghast at how rude they are. It’s all chaos. I do hope you’re ok. Katie

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  3. It is a shame, isn’t it. My sister has immune issues and very susceptible to bugs of all kinds so she always keeps a large supply of mask on hand. When they said the doctors and nurses didn’t have enough, she donated hers to the local hospital by way of one of our family members who works at the hospital. She then found a retired nurse that was making masks and bought herself 4 of those. We are all in this together. 🙂

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  4. I could never stomach tripe. (No pun intended) I once put some in my mouth and it made me want to vomit. My Mum told me that rationing was still in place after I was born, in 1952. I looked it up, and food rationing carried on here until 1954, so she was right. I am sure that is why there was less obsesity in that generation. Unfortunately, smoking was so popular, many died of lung cancer and respiratory illness, instead of dietary problems.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. I can relate to this. I’ve never recovered from my childhood experiences with tripe at my aunt’s house. Luckily, my mother hated it! I love the poster, but rationing meant no one could hoard! It wasn’t allowed, I know the stores here are now limiting the toilet paper!!!! Our own rationing. Hopefully that will stop the hoarding.

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  6. Hoarders are the worst. Panic buyers come in a close second. It isn’t that hard, to buy one or two extra items and put them back each time we shop. Most are just lazy and don’t want to bother.

    I remember my mother talking about the ration books. She said it was a hard time.

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  7. People don’t really change in times of crisis. There are the helpers and the hoarders. I love the war rationing poster, an excellent case in point. I remember the carryover of liver and onions. I feel for your mother with having to eat tripe. Waste not want not was driven into us as children. Excellent post, Elizabeth.

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  8. There’s a case to be made in defending the statement: “Rationing won the war.” Certainly when it comes to the UK. Unfortunately we currently have unfettered capitalism, individual greed and economic inequity run rampant. And an occupant of the White House who thrives on cruelty and chaos.

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  9. I remember my Nan cooking tripe and onions when I was a child (and no, I’m not that old. It was way after rationing ended.) I couldn’t even stand the smell of it.

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  10. My father-in-law used to say about rationing during World War 2. Fortunately, here grocery shops are open from 7 to 11 and nobody in hoarding. But I do not know about big cities. My daughter says in Walldorf people are not allowed to buy more than necessary. Walldorf is a very small town. Take care and stay healthy. Regards

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    1. I am glad that you are not experiencing the hoarding and especially glad for your daughter and her young family. Germany seems to be handling the outbreak better than Italy and Spain at the moment. Peace to all of you.

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