The productive capacity of the United States during World War II surpassed all expectations. To boost that production and maintain supply levels for troops abroad, Americans at home were asked to conserve materials and to accept ration coupons or stamps that limited the purchase of certain products. Gasoline, rubber, sugar, butter, and some kinds of cloth were among the many items rationed. American responses to rationing varied from cheerful compliance to resigned grumbling to instances of black market subversion and profiteering. The drive to increase wartime production extended beyond rationing. Government-sponsored posters, ads, radio shows, and pamphlet campaigns urged Americans to contribute to scrap drives and accept rationing without complaint. A segment of the popular radio series Fibber McGee and Molly had Fibber shouldering his patriotic duty.Listen to Audio:
Mr. Wilcox: Ladies and gentlemen, the United States government invites you to listen to the following presentation of Fibber McGee and Molly in a humorous approach to a serious situation.
Fibber McGee: This mileage rationing has got me disgusted.
Molly: You know, he’s been raving about it all day, Mr. Wilcox. He thinks the O-P-A is trying to make an A-P-E out of him.
McGee: And they are, too. A citizen of my standing trying to get along on an AAA book—it’s a lot of foolishness. I’ve got business to take care of!
Wilcox: What business, pal?
McGee: Well, in the first place, I—Well, gee whiz. I’ve got responsibilities.
Molly: Oh, he really has, Mr. Wilcox.
Molly: You know, he’s the sole support of three pinochle players at the Elk’s Club.
Wilcox: Fibber, you talk like a chump!
Wilcox: Yes. Mileage rationing is the only fair way to cut down nonessential driving. When the rubber this country has got is gone, it’s gone. That’s all there is. There isn’t any more.
McGee: Well, then they should have foreseen that and took care of the situation.
Molly: Well, everybody can’t be as farsighted as you are, dearie.
Wilcox: Is he pretty farsighted, Molly?
Molly: Why, he’s uncanny, Mr. Wilcox. He’s the one who said we’d lick the Japanese in ten days. Remember?
McGee: Well, shucks!
Molly: He’s the one who said Germany would fold up from starvation last April.
McGee: Yeah, I know. But circumstances—
Molly: He’s the one who said we’d never ship a soldier out of this country. I don’t know how he does it. Though I will say he made one accurate prediction.
Wilcox: And what was that?
Molly: Well, last night he said, “Well, tomorrow is another day.” And sure enough, it was.
Source: Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, Recorded Sound Division.
See Also:"Aluminum for Defense": Rationing at Home during World War II