Less Sugar, More Warships: Food as American Propaganda in the First World War

Tunc T. E.

WAR IN HISTORY, vol.19, no.2, pp.193-216, 2012 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 19 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0968344511433158
  • Journal Name: WAR IN HISTORY
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.193-216
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The use of food as American war propaganda finds its origins in the First World War, when anti-German sentiment prompted Americans to rename German foods. The First World War also signifies an important turning point in the history of American food consumption because it represents a shift in eating habits, culinary practices, and domestic food preparation, including the infiltration of fresh home-grown fruit and vegetables and preserved or canned foods into the US diet, and the introduction of supermarkets. All of these changes, however, would have been impossible without the mobilization of middle-class American women on the home front, and the synergy between civil society and government propaganda. By using poster and grassroots campaigns to appeal to their activities in the private sphere of the household and their pre-existing activism in the public sphere, the United States Food Administration, under the leadership of Herbert Hoover, was able to convince women to 'rally around the flag' to change the dietary habits of both adults and children, and conserve valuable food which could be sent to the 'starving people of Europe' and Allied soldiers on the warfront.