Advertising in the Great War: Supporting “Meatless” and “Wheatless” Days

One hundred years ago, as December 1917 ebbed into January 1918 the United States had  officially been in the Great War since April 6, 1917. 

As more U.S. soldiers entered military training camps and went overseas, the need to ration food sources increased. By October 30, 1917, the State of Iowa introduced voluntary meatless and wheatless days. Pledge cards were sent to homes, restaurants, hotels, and businesses asking for participation.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 24, 1917. Pg. 15.

























As the months went on, updated “Home Cards” were sent to those who pledged to join the rationing. These new cards included additional items to conserve for the war effort.

The Daily Times, December 14, 1917. Pg. 8.

























Food companies soon promoted their “meatless” and “wheatless” products. Many of these companies had Domestic Science Departments creating recipes that a housewife could obtain through the mail to support these days.

The Daily Times, December 14, 1917. Pg. 20.


Reminders were frequently posted in local newspapers about the United States food administration’s requests.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, December 17, 1917. Pg. 6.

























By January 1918, advertising promoting “meatless” and “wheatless” cooking to help the men on the front lines of the war was routine. Restaurants and hotels also promoted their efforts to support the war effort on the home front.

Following are examples from local Davenport newspapers of the time.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 2, 1918. Pg. 9.
























The Daily Times, January 7, 1918. Pg. 2.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 8, 1918. Pg. 12.

The Daily Times, January 23, 1918. Pg. 9.

The Daily Times, January 28, 1918. Pg. 16.
















































There was one bright spot during the holidays that year.

Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on Tuesdays in 1917 and 1918. As turkeys were not part of “meatless” Tuesdays; those who chose to celebrate on those days with a traditional turkey dinner had no worries about depriving soldiers on the front with needed food.

A small moment of festivity during that time of uncertainty.

We wish you all a Happy New Year.

(posted by Amy D.


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