One of the most common themes with U.S. military and civilian posters during the Second World War involves rationing and salvaging. The military routinely encouraged conservation on the civilian front. This took many forms, with the victory garden being perhaps the most emblematic. But it wasn’t just fresh home grown vegetables that did their part to defeat the Axis.
Civilians back home were asked to consume less and to ration goods routinely. Everything from bacon to coffee was carefully rationed, and even scrap metal collections made civilians feel like they were doing their part for the war effort.
Perhaps one of the most interesting campaigns came from the War Production Board which urged people to save their cooking fats. Yes, that bacon you had for breakfast could help create a bomb to blast the Nazis.
If that seems strange to you, and arguably it should – it all had to do with one little word, glycerin. Cooking fats could be used to create the critical substance which was found in the weapons of the time. Women back home collected cooking fats and brought them to their local butcher, who would usually resell it to war plants for manufacturing.
Even though the campaign enjoyed moderate success, due to the rationing at home, many women reused cooking oils over and over again at home – in order to conserve and save. Despite cooking fats not being a major factor of war time weapon production, the campaign served a different purpose. It made women feel part of the war effort and motivated individuals by boosting morale and encouraging selfless behavior.