The can opener will yield to the cook book after midnight February 20. From that time until March 1, when rationing starts, there will be no canned fruits or vegetables sold. (Lansing State Journal, February 3, 1942)
During the Second World War, you couldn’t just walk into a shop and buy as much sugar or butter or meat as you wanted, nor could you fill up your car with gasoline whenever you liked. All these things were rationed, which meant you were only allowed to buy a small amount (even if you could afford more). The government introduced rationing because certain things were in short supply during the war, and rationing was the only way to make sure everyone got their fair share.
After three years of rationing, World War II came to a welcome end. Rationing, however, did not end until 1946. Life resumed as normal and the consumption of meat, butter, and sugar inevitably rose. While Americans still live with some of the results of World War II, rationing has not returned.
Republished in Ann Arbor News, May 11, 1962
Lansing State Journal, February 3, 1942
World War II Rationing on the U.S. Homefront, courtesy of the Ames Historical Society.