July 4th, 1954, was a day for celebration in the United Kingdom as fourteen years of rationing ended.
Before World War II, only 30% of the food Britain consumed was produced domestically. After the outbreak of war, the risk of attacks on merchant ships by German submarines meant food shortages were a real concern.
As part of national defence, petrol was rationed in 1939, food in 1940, and clothing in 1941.
A typical person’s weekly ration allowed them 1 egg, 2 ounces each of tea and butter, an ounce of cheese, eight ounces of sugar, four ounces of bacon and four ounces of margarine. Every individual was issued with a ration book which worked on a coupon system, so people could only purchase their entitlement and no more.
A black market in restricted good soon flourished. Criminals nicknamed ‘Spivs’ offered those who could afford it additional food, fuel and luxuries to those that could afford them.
After the war ended, an exceptionally wet summer in 1946 and deep snow in winter destroyed wheat crops and stores of potatoes, and meant the continuation of rationing. Gradually over the coming decade rationing ended on all goods, until it was finally stopped in 1954.
Also I’m told something rather important happened in America on this day in 1776.
Happy July 4th, everyone!