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Bread as a staple food
in 1940s wartime Britain

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Meals based on bread

The use of bread for any meal was only limited by what to put on it or how to cook it. The same is true today. In the years of austerity, though, butter was a rare treat and even margarine had to be spread very thinly. Often the moistness was provided by vegetables.

The 'national loaf'

Bread was not rationed during the Second World War although it was afterwards between 1946 and 1948 when shortages were even more severe.

Normally there was no white bread. Bread was called 'The National Loaf' and was grey in colour, although it tasted just the same as white bread.

Peter Johnson

It was not until perhaps 1949 that white bread was permitted to be sold to the public. My mother joined the queue at the local bakery at six o'clock in the morning to see the first WHITE loaves come out of the oven!

Jan Clifford

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Pat Cryer, webmaster

I clearly remember that my mother made me a complete slice of crisply fried bread for breakfast every morning. That couldn't have been healthy, but she thought it was because when she took me to the clinic as a baby, the nurse had said, "Give her something to cut her teeth on, mother" - and my mother carried on the practice. I didn't complain because I really liked the fried bread. It was served by itself and followed by an apple while they were in season.

At Christmas and Easter, we had bacon and fried mushrooms with the fried bread. I assume that the mushrooms were picked from the wild, even though my mother would have bought them. Certainly no mushrooms today ever seem to have the same flavour. The bacon addition must have been just after the war in the late 1940s when my father was back home, as I can't remember any meat during the war.