World War II food rationing

Sugar rationing ended in the U.S. in June 1947 after nearly five years of shortages brought about by World War II. Here’s a ration book from the Nebraska History Museum:

History Nebraska SFN18157.

An excerpt from What Did You Do in the War? (A special issue of Nebraska History Magazine, Winter 1991):

For most Nebraskans, the first sign of the war’s impact was the unprecedented rationing of more than twenty essential items. In combination with price controls, rationing was an attempt to distribute scarce goods equally and control inflation.

Detail of previous image.

The first item to be rationed nationwide was sugar, which was soon followed by coffee and shoes. However, the rationed item producing the greatest inconvenience to most was probably gasoline. Each motorist was assigned a windshield sticker, indicating a priority. Most of the population received low priority “A” stickers, which allowed three to five gallons of gasoline a week. Gasoline was rationed in an effort to save tires, because supplies of vital rubber from the Far East had been cut off. There was no gasoline shortage.

Back page of ration book. History Nebraska SFN18162

The complicated rationing system was an attempt to prevent hoarding. Coded stamps were redeemable only for a specified period. Along with ration stamps, the Office of Price Administration issued tokens, or points, which were also used when purchasing rationed items.

Detail from ration book. NSHS SFN18158
Rationing is part of the “Home Front” chapter of What Did You Do in the War? Read the Home Front chapter here (PDF).
The rest of the issue includes many first-person accounts of Nebraskans’ wartime experiences, both at home and overseas:

– David Bristow, Editor

(Posted 6/11/2010; updated 6/13/2022)

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Marker Monday: The Seedling Mile

Marker Monday: The Seedling Mile

Vacationing on a Budget in 1909

Vacationing on a Budget in 1909

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.