Sugarless Sweets?? Sugar Substitutes During WWI

During World War I there were sugar shortages, so consumers were encouraged to use alternatives to white sugar. Here’s some excepts from a hundred-year-old article about “sugarless sweets” – though I tend to consider most of the alternatives to be sugars.

Sugarless Sweets: Delicious Desserts Made with No Sugar

The recent sugar shortage has brought home to us the fact that we need not be dependent upon white sugar for sweetening.

Brown Sugar. In substituting brown sugar – when we are lucky enough to obtain it – the same amount should be used as white. A cupful of brown sugar has less actual sweetening power than white sugar, but it makes up in flavor what it lacks in sweetness. 

Maple Sugar. In using maple sugar the same thing is true, and the usual recipe will be as successful as ever, the texture being the same and only the flavor changing – often for the better.

Maple Sirup. Maple sirup is not so sweet as sugar, and when used to replace it should be increased by one-half. Of course in this case allowance must be made for the increase of liquid. Using the amount of liquid called for in the recipe should be halved.

Corn Sirup. The same rule holds good for corn sirup. One and a half again as much sirup may be used, and to make up for a certain flatness of taste, it is desirable to use an extra amount of flavoring. When used in cakes and cookies better results are obtained if sirup is substituted for only half the sugar.

Molasses. In using molasses we find that no change need be made so far as amounts for sweetening purposes are concerned, because, like brown sugar, what it lacks in sweetness must be made up in flavor; but the same allowance must be made for liquid as when using sirup – it should be halved. When molasses is used in cake mixtures, soda should be used instead of baking powder in the proportion of one teaspoonful of soda to one cupful molasses.

Honey. Honey, probably the longest-used sweetening in the world, has not been in common use for cooking purposes recently. It has a distinct favor, which combines well with spices and its sweetening power is about the same as that of sugar. Honey is thicker than sirup, so it therefore adds less liquid, and in replacing sugar only one-fourth of the liquid in the recipe need be left out. As honey is slightly acid, soda in the proportion of half a teaspoonful to one cupful of honey should be used in cake or cookie mixtures.

Fruits. The sweetening qualities of fruits are not always recognized, but when raisins or dates are used the sugar may be appreciably lessoned. If twelve cut-up dates are added to two cupfuls of cooked oatmeal ten minutes before serving, no sugar will be required – unless your family has a very sweet tooth.

With all these sugar-saving sweets at our disposal, we shall certainly not find it difficult to cut down our use of sugar from the pre-wartime amount of four ounces a day to the two-ounce ration which the Food Administration is asking us to make our maximum.

Ladies Home Journal (March, 1918)

Reviving Withered Root Vegetables

My refrigerator always seems to have a few miscellaneous food lurking in it that have seen better days – like the plastic bag filled with carrots that I bought several weeks ago, but somehow had never used. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old suggestion for reviving carrots and other root vegetables.

Root vegetables, such as turnips and carrots, that have been withered need not be thrown away. Revive them by slicing off the ends and laying them in cold water. In a few hours their natural freshness will be restored.

Ladies Home Journal (March, 1918)

This tip worked wonderfully.  The revived carrots were almost as good as ones I’ve freshly pulled from my garden.

Hundred-year-old Advice on How to Prepare Raw Vegetables for Storing and Eating

Here’s some hundred-year-old advice on how to clean and store raw vegetables:

Separate leaves or stalks into their natural divisions.

First. Examine them carefully, removing interior portions, insects, etc., that may be found on the vegetables.

Second. Wash thoroughly in several waters. Running water is preferable. Salted water aids in removing parasites.

Third. Drain off the water and dry with cheese cloth.

Greens may be kept in a paper bag in the refrigerator until serving time.

Coarser portions may be utilized for soups or sauces while the tender portions may be served raw. Great care should be exercised in the selection and preparation of food which is not subjected to heat before serving, such as salad greens. Salad plants, carelessly cultivated or handled may carry dangerous bacteria, or they may have been sprinkled with poisonous compounds.

The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

An “Army” of Diet Experts Helped Ensure Victory in WWI

Source: Good Housekeeping (July, 1917)

During World War I food in the U.S. was very expensive, and people worried about food shortages. Here’s excerpts of what Harvey Wiley, a popular food expert who led the laboratories at the Good Housekeeping Institute, had to say:

The victory in this war will  be won by those nations which have the best and most abundant supply of food. Bread is more important than munitions. The nation that is hungry will first be ready to yield. We must see to it that none of the Allies is put in such a position. To this end everything that can be done to awaken the American people to their responsibility must be done.

We must stop wasting food in our kitchens and on our tables, and we must conserve the whole of the food product that is edible.

Our people must be taught how to eat in these times of stress. The teachers of home economics and domestic science throughout the country should be mobilized to carry messages to the people. The welfare of the nation is at stake. The success of our Allies is in the balance. It seems strange to speak of an army of diet experts, but such an army is just as important as one carrying modern rifles and sharp bayonets.

Good Housekeeping (July, 1917)

Hundred-Year-Old Food Advertisements Poem

Source: American Cookery (October, 1917)

When I saw this poem in a hundred-year-old issue of American Cookery Magazine, I had an immediate negative reaction. Did the magazine’s editors really think that they could convince consumers that everything in food advertisements was true? Didn’t cooks back then realize that the purpose of advertisements was to sell food, not to provide the most accurate information?

Then I thought –

Even though I’m cynical about advertising, I read food ads.  They must have value to me. Soon I was pondering,  “Why do I read food ads?”

Here’s the reasons, I came up with:

  • Food advertisements are fun to read.
  • I like to laugh at how over the top some ads are.
  • I read them to learn about new products.
  • I read them to find “good deals.”

Hmm . . . maybe the old magazine was  right, “food ads help me out so much.”