Dried Milk Tin

Milk rationing was introduced in Great Britain in November 1941 when fresh bottled milk went on the ration for the first time. Each person was allowed three pints of fresh milk a week and in December 1941 tins of skimmed milk powder began to be imported from the United States:imageThese were in addition to the usual milk ration and each person was allowed one tin every four weeks. The tins cost 9d and one ration coupon and the powder made up an additional four pints. The tins were made of metal and had a paper label wrapped around them. The label was printed in red and blue and featured stars and stripes and the country of origin printed proudly on the front:imageThese packs of milk powder were specially produced in the United States for the Ministry of Food and this is marked on the side of the tin, along with a warning that the contents were not suitable for babies:imageAlternative milk powder containing whole full fat milk was also produced, especially for babies who needed the fat content to grow. The back of the label is unfortunately quite badly damaged, but gave instructions to the housewife about how to mix up the powder to make the milk:imageThe tins of milk powder were shipped form the US to Great Britain and shopkeepers in cardboard cartons, each holding 72x8oz cans:household-milk-cartonMilk powder was used for a variety of things during the war, as recalled by Anne Butcher:

Over-riding all these trifling discomforts was the non-stop foraging by the housewife to provide some variety in her family’s meals. I cannot recall ever being literally hungry, but the country had been reliant upon imports, which were now impossible because of the sea blockade. Everything was scrupulously rationed and we ate some strange things to supplement our diet.

Tea tablets were used to make the tea look stronger; babies’ dried milk or ‘National’ milk was added if it could be obtained; and saccharine was used as a sweetener. Some even resorted to using honey or jam. What a concoction – but we drank it. Bread was heavy and a dull grey colour, but it, too, was rationed – so we ate it.

Sweets were devised from a mixture of dried milk and peppermint essence with a little sugar or icing sugar if available.

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