Chef Fritz, a former captain in the US Army Medical Service Corps, continues to collect books in all fields of cookery in any language, but he especially seeks those dealing with disaster and wartime for both military and civilian cooks. Items from the Second World War in particular fuel his interest in rationed goods and the lack of ingredients formerly taken for granted, like spices from Japanese-occupied Pacific islands.

Since food and nutrition have long helped define war, blocs of war cooking books make incursions into nearly every library area: some crop up in the canning section, others in baking or in essays and biographies of chefs like August Escoffier and Alexis Soyer. Patriotic pamphlet titles – Delicious Desserts Every Day in Spite of Rationing, Conserves de Guerre, and Make the Most of Your Meat – maintain a permanent outpost in the Victus Populi.

Fredericton High School War-Time Recipe Book.
Fredericton, New Brunswick: McMurray Press, 1942.

Belgian Relief Cook Book.
Reading, PA: Belgian Relief Committee, 1915.

A fundraising book of which Blank is extraordinarily fond ranks as one of the first cookbooks published to assist Belgian families living under German occupation during World War I.

Ministère Federal de l’Agriculture.
Conserves de Guerre: Fruits and Legumes.

Ottawa, Canada.


The Home Front

As war threatened in the 1930’s, the home-delivery spice merchant W.T. Rawleigh maneuvered to stockpile exotic foodstuffs from around the world in North American warehouses. Like many governments, companies, and organizations, Rawleigh published guides for homemakers to cope with restricted or unavailable products. Americans have not used such guides on a large scale in almost sixty years.


A Wonderful Process of Economy.
Stewart-Skinner Company, 1918.

Kent, Louise Andrews.
“Mrs. Appleyard Copes with Variety Meats”.
American Cookery.

47:253,272. Feb., 1943.


General Motors Corporation. Frigidaire Division.
Wartime Suggestions to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Refrigerator: How to Store and Keep Food Properly Under Today’s Conditions.

Dayton, OH: The Division, 1943.

How to be Easy on Your Ration Book.
Johnstown, NY: Charles Knox Gelatine Company, 1943.

W.T. Rawleigh Company.
Rawleigh’s Good Health Guide: Cook Book and Almanac.
Freeport, IL: W.T. Rawleigh Co., 1943.


United States Food Administration.
Food Guide for War Service At Home.

New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916.

Aunt Jenny’s Sugar-Saving Recipes.
Spry, 1943.

American Can Company.
Canned Food Manual, Prepared for the U.S. Army.

New York: American Can Company, 1943.

During the Second World War, dehydrated, condensed, canned and frozen foods became a way of life for the armed forces as well as for wives and mothers who worked in factories and were no longer full-time homemakers. In thousands of booklets published during the war, manufacturers’ associations promoted prepared foods in general as well as specific products such as “war lard.”

Baking Manual for the Army Cook: Including Instructions on Using Lard as a Shortening in Baking and for Deep Fat Frying and Pan Frying.
Chicago: National Live Stock and Meat Board, c. 1943.

Fort Dix Meal Tray.

Navy Bartender Guide.

An Army Travels on Its Stomach

MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) are the current field standard in military food, though not the only things troops eat. With access to a kitchen, soldiers at New Jersey’s Fort Dix eat from metal trays, while officers at Portsmouth’s naval hospital once indulged in alcohol, an ancient maritime tradition.

The venerable recipe of creamed beef on toast has long been the butt of jokes among US armed forces who dubbed it “Shit on a Shingle” (also known as “SOS,” “chipped beef” or, by Blank’s mother, “dried beef gravy”). A version occasionally surfaces at Deux Cheminées staff meals. Despite the ingredient change, staff have upheld the nickname…


Cold War Comfort

Converting trashcans to cookers and packing hot foods in baked sand are a few lessons of emergency mass feeding. The Handbook's civil defense advice for managing groups of war and disaster survivors is underpinned by a palpable fear of nuclear attack.

U.S. Army MRE.

U.S. Navy Dept. Bureau of Supplies and Accounts.
The Cook Book of the U.S. Navy.

Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1948.
Basic Course in Emergency Mass Feeding Handbook. 1966.

Fort Lewis Knives.

Knives given by an Army mess sergeant to Captain Blank in exchange for slaughtering two pigs raised near Fort Lewis, Washington, 1966.


Home | Exhibit Introduction | A Chef and His Library | Someone's in the Kitchen with Fritz | Standing in the Stockpots of Giants

Great Composers | Victus Populi | A Fine Mess | My Dear Heinrich | Cattail City | May I Take Your Menu? | Guten Appetit

Acknowledgements | Fritz Blank Biography

© 2002 University of Pennyslvanian Library Trustees