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Wartime Ration Cookies

WWII wasn’t just felt by the soldiers on the beaches of Europe or depths of the Pacific Islands, it was felt back on American soil, where people — many in the absence of their drafted loved ones — adapted life to fuel the US military machine. People took up unoccupied manufacturing jobs and adhered to strict rationing of basic staples. And while government-backed food manufacturing fed soldiers through military rations, this food did not taste like actual food. Outside of cigarettes and the occasional chocolate bar, soldiers longed for a taste of home, even if it wasn’t a hundred percent like the way it used to be. A box of these Wartime Ration Cookies would’ve been a mental reprieve from the food-like substances of military rations. These cookies are a taste in time that really embody the feeling of home with a caramelized sweetness and a slightly soft, tender crumb.

Wartime Ration Cookies were a redesign of the classic chocolate chip cookie, minus the all-important sugars. Sugar was the first food to be rationed in 1941 and the last food to be removed from the ration list in 1947, meaning that a sugary treat wasn’t so easy to bake. Nestle, the manufacturer of the Toll House chocolate bars, contrived a sugar-less workaround for their famous chocolate chip cookie that they bought (supposedly for one dollar) from Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1939.

This version is an interesting twist, swapping out the usual butter for shortening. The recipe then calls for maple syrup and honey as substitutes for brown sugar and granulated sugar.

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