History has shown us time and time again that financial difficulties drive people to be a little more inventive in the kitchen. The creativity that flourished during the Great Depression continued until the 1940s, when war rations required substitutes and techniques for stretching ingredients: eggs and vegetables were popular substitutes for meat, while recipes for stretching meat, like meatloaf and tomato-based soups, they became common in The Kitchen. After the war ended, food manufacturers explored methods that gave products a longer shelf life. During the second half of the decade, more convenience products hit the shelves as scientists delved into food preservation research. Scroll through the gallery to see the recipes that dominated the 1940s and try them for yourself.
Like many staple recipes of the 1940s, meatloaf experienced a resurgence in popularity during the Great Depression. Not only was it a simple recipe with delicious results, but the use of bread or cracker crumbs helped stretch out the ground beef, which was hard to come by at the time. Many WWII-era meatloaf recipes took the “meat stretch” a bit further by incorporating more available protein sources, such as soy, liver, or pork. Introduced in 1937, spam was a staple for soldiers thanks to its long shelf life. However, once the war ended, spam did not fade into the background. Rather, it became popular all over the world, especially in Pacific nations and states like the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, and Okinawa. This recipe incorporates eggs, which were an inexpensive source of protein at the time, for a double hearty breakfast.
Victory Gardens were a big part of life during the 1940s. The massive volunteer effort provided substantial help to farms, the military, and the people. Newspapers and brochures distributed vegetable-rich recipes that volunteers could make in their own gardens. Soups, such as tomato soup, were a satisfying and profitable meal that could also include more precious ingredients like meat and dairy. of recipes, including desserts. No-bake cookies were a particularly popular use, especially since they didn’t require much butter or flour.
Roast beef on toast was a classic wartime food, but it was also a Depression staple as it was inexpensive and plentiful. The soldiers called it “SOS” which means “same old” as well as a more insulting nickname, but it has since become comfort food. In 1887, inventors Jacob Fitzgerald and William H. Silver patented what is now known as the potato rice cooker. With the help of the tool, people were able to make better-tasting, creamier mashed potatoes more easily. The scientists began experimenting with dehydrating potatoes, first for soldiers and then for the general public. Instant mashed potato flakes appeared on supermarket shelves in 1957.
Harvard beets first appeared in the early 20th century. The recipe resurfaced in 1940, at the start of the victory garden movement; Beets are a fairly simple vegetable to grow and are a good source of iron, potassium, and vitamins. In other words, they created an ideal vintage for the victory garden in an age marked by rations. Nabisco, short for “National Biscuit Company,” may be best known for its Oreo cookies, but its chocolate wafer cookies played a huge role in the popularity of parfaits. . The brand helped popularize the convenience treat, and its own chocolate wafers, by printing the recipe for “famous chocolate wafer cake” on the product’s packaging. Today, the three-ingredient recipe is still around and loved.