All posts by Serenity Foster

1001 Good Things to Eat: A Cookbook from the Days of the Great Depression

In 1934, the Bridgeport Post-Telegram published a cookbook featuring prize recipes contributed by readers through Fairfield County. Many of the recipes in the collection reflected the psyche of the American public and the economics of the times.
The Great Depression, which covered the years of 1929 to the start of World War II, affected all of the households in Bridgeport. The Post-Telegram newspaper covered many of the effects of the Depression. The Post-Telegram also sponsored cooking classes for local women.
The classes were held at the Pyramid Mosque Temple, located at 1035 State Street. The cooking classes helped women learn some of the newest gadgets and cooking techniques. Many of the women were immigrants who did not know how to use the stove or other tools.

A recipe for “Depression Chocolate Cake” was featured on page 50

The result of this cooking school was a cookbook that boasted “A Thousand and One Good Thing to Eat.” Recipes covered many ethnic groups now living in the city; a German baked dinner, Irish stew, and apple fritters.

World War II Ration Books

Times are tough now, but in World War II it was especially difficult to get many goods from stores and elsewhere. Citizens were given a series of ration books during the war years. Each ration book was numbered. All kinds of things were rationed, from food to gasoline and even clothing.

The first ration book was given out in 1942. The first war ration stamps given out were for sugar. A series of four books were given out in the United States, and stamps were used for a variety of goods. On the back of the book which contained the stamps was the slogan, “If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”

This particular ration book was owned by Julian Sohon, the Head librarian of the Bridgeport Public Library in 1942.

Ration books had descriptions of the owner of the book, including height, weight, color of dyes and age. The address of the person to which the book was issued was also marked, with strict rules not to transfer ration stamps. Dealers had to post prices conspicuously so that buyers would not pay more.