The United States Food Administrator during World War I was Herbert Hoover. His efforts to convince the American public to reduce waste resulted in the word “Hooverize” coming to mean “to economise.” One of Hoover’s major campaigns was to advocate the voluntary adoption of wheatless days, the rationale being to allow the saving of wheat to feed the soldiers, and to divert cargo shipping for military transport.
Naturally, the ‘wheatless days’ campaign was directed primarily at the women of the country. Newspaper columnists and patriotic housewives did their bit, and the published correspondence was prolific indeed.
From New York Times of April 20, 1918:
The Hooverized Pie.
To the Editor of the New York Times.
Pie! “Can its crusts be made of something else than wheat?” asks The Times. “Yes!” They can be made of many things else than wheat. If it is a custard or pumpkin pie or a lemon pie or a cream pie, with one crust, grease the tin well with lard, compound, or other shortening, and dust it heavily with corn meal. Then pour in the stuff that makes the pie good, and bake as usual. If it is a two-crust pie, make the crust of half-wheat and half barley flour, or half wheat and half white corn flour. Either of these make the most delicious pie crust you have ever eaten. All the substitutes can be used through mixing with wheat flour. Women have simply got to try it, that’s all. We had the finest tea biscuits with honey at home the other evening, and they were made with half wheat flour and half barley flour.
Utica, April 18, 1918
Using other grains to reduce wheat consumption was not the only strategy. Here is a recipe for a pastry which uses potato.
Potato Crust for Meat for Vegetable Pie
Two cups mashed potato, ½ cup corn flour, 1 cup hot milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon butter substitute. Mix, beat well and spread on meat or vegetable pie and bake 20 minutes. I have used one-third cup of white cornmeal when I could not get the corn flour.
The Boston Sunday Globe, April 21, 1918
I wonder if wars would end more quickly nowadays if things were still this tough on the home front.
Interesting question to muse on, Shay. Of course, folk love the sense of patriotic zeal - so perhaps this would be a greater social force?
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