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Some of the museum's team with Easter hats on.

Easter on the Ration

By News

Everyone is familiar with the Easter tradition of chocolate eggs but what happens when chocolate and other sweet treats are rationed?


During World War Two, in an attempt to reduce the strain placed upon the merchant fleet and other vessels supplying Britain with food from around the world, rationing was introduced effecting all aspects of life in Britain. Cloths were rationed as was petrol, wood and other raw materials and fuel required for the war effort were also short in supply and subject to rationing, all of which came into force January 8th, 1940 just a few months after the outbreak of war.


However, food is probably the first thing people think of when rationing is mentioned, and all sorts of both essential and non-essential items were added to the ration list. Some food items were not rationed such as potatoes and carrots. Other fruit and vegetables that could be grown in Britain were also not subject to rationing although they did become scarce and harder to find in the shops.


But what about sweets and chocolate eggs for Easter? The rationing of sweets and chocolate began in July 1942. Even before chocolate rationing came into force Cadbury’s had ceased production of their ‘Dairy Milk’ as the government had banned the use of fresh milk in manufacturing in 1941, instead they produced ‘Ration Chocolate’ which was a poor substitute and definitely did not come in the form of an Easter egg! Shops sold carrot lollies and other vegetables on a stick as a replacement Easter treat.


The stringent rules of rationing began to be loosened in 1948 but it was not until 1953 that the rationing of sweets and chocolate was finally over. As well as sweets and chocolate: eggs, cream, butter, cheese, margarine and cooking fats were all taken off the rationed list almost a decade after the end of World War Two.


To celebrate the end of rationing one sweet shop in Clapham common gave 800 children 150lbs of lollipops during their midday break from school; and another London factory opened its doors to hand out free sweets to all comers. It was not just school children that delighted in the end of the restrictions, many adults queued on their lunch breaks to be able to get boiled sweets and boxes of chocolates to take home.

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