As the old saw goes, an army travels on its stomach, and to feed an army there must be readily available foodstuff, and plenty of it. In order to provision the fighting troops, sacrifices were necessary at home and the U.S. Food Administration put out a series of posters regarding conservation rules.
It is simple enough to tell the home cook to use less sugar, to cut back on meat consumption, to use up leftovers, etc., but it is another thing to put those ideas into action. To aid home cooks in dealing with food shortages, a Patriotic Food Show was held in the Chicago Coliseum January 5-13, 1918, with demonstrations on how to prepare meals with substitute ingredients. Samples of the prepared dishes were available to the attendees, so that they could experience first-hand the possibility of meals that were tasty, nutritious, and thrifty.
The layout of the Patriotic Food Show was organized into areas of food type – proteins, fats, sugars, fruits, and vegetables and starches – and, in addition to educational demonstrations; there were displays by commercial vendors. The commercial booths were intended to show the home cook less expensive and more readily available alternatives to the ingredients they were used to using and, to that end, vendors had to adhere to strict guidelines on what could and could not be put on display.
Available for purchase at a nickel a copy was the “Official Recipe Book: Containing All Demonstrations Given During Patriotic Food Show,” which, as stated in the title, contained recipes for all the demonstrations. Numbers listed beside each recipe corresponded to signage in the demonstration booths making it easier for the home cooks to see which recipes were being demonstrated. In addition to the recipes, the booklet included information on meal planning, guidelines for conservation, and recommendations on how to shop for groceries.
A variety of governmental agencies participated in the Patriotic Food Show including the U.S. Food Administration, the U.S. Fuel Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, the Garden Bureau, the Navy, and the Army, which set up a mess hall and served meals.