What it looked like Wednesday: Lines at the grocery during World War II rationing, 1943

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The Office of Price Administration was actually established several months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as the country prepared for the possibility of war.

Weeks after the declaration of war, price controls and rationing were implemented on all manner of consumer goods except agricultural products.

Ben Dykstra, butcher and grocer at the corner of Main and Merrimac in University Heights, shows off the full March, 1943 ration of canned goods for a family of four.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

Families had to register for ration books, as Mrs. EW England was doing at School 16 on Delaware and Hodge in 1943.

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Women jammed markets when they knew they could get good meat. Such was the case at Neber & McGill Butchers on William Street in 1943.

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Additional ration points could be earned by turning in food waste, like grease, for the war effort. Mrs. Robert Bond of Hampshire Street collected four cents and two brown ration points for turning in a pound of rendered kitchen fat to Anthony Scime, of Scime Brothers Grocery, at Hampshire and 19th on the West Side.

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Even after the war, shortages continued. This is the scene at the Mohican Market on Main Street near Fillmore in 1946, on a day when butter was available.

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The News called it “a mob scene” inside, where Office of Price Administration rules dropped the price to 53 cents. Some markets, confused by the change in rules, were selling for 64 cents.

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The OPA was dissolved and price controls ended in 1947.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. The operator of Buffalo Stories Tours writes about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo special at blog.buffalostories.com and daily at buffalonews.com/history. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and spent 20 years working in Buffalo radio and TV, climbing his way to news director at WBEN Radio. Since then, he's been an adjunct professor and produced PBS documentaries. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.