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Victory Recipes of the Great War

Designed by Colin Mahoney
Created by Chika Offurum and Gene Tempest

The Great War changed America’s role in the world. At home, it also changed how Americans ate. When Wilson declared war in 1917, the cookbook industry — as well as local clubs and newspapers — immediately fell in line. Wartime editions were rushed into print. Herbert Hoover’s new Food Administration, meanwhile, issued guidelines and announced themed days of the week: Mondays were meatless, Wednesdays wheatless… Certain foods, like sugar, wheat, meats, and fats, were urgently needed for the front and for Allied civilian populations. “It became evident that food was going to be a weapon in the war,” says Helen Veit, an interviewee in The Great War and a leading food historian. “Hebert Hoover immediately worked to get Americans to think that saving food and conserving food was the most important thing that they could do as individuals.”

We’ve scoured more than a dozen World War I “victory cookbooks” and read hundreds of recipes from around the country to bring you a week’s worth of historical dishes. All of them meet Food Administration guidelines. Set your tables back to 1917 and make sure to share your victory meals with us using #GreatWarPBS on Instagram and Twitter.

Remember, as a victory cookbook explained in 1918: “Don’t give the new dishes a black eye by having too many of them at once. Use all the ingenuity you have to make them both taste and look well. Food habits, like other habits, are not easily changed. Lead gently into the new realm.”

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