This latest blog comes from University Archivist Amy Allen. To learn more about the University Archives and Allen’s work, visit the archives online here.
The Home Economics Club presented an exhibit and sample menu plans for eating balanced meals without wheat, meat, and sugar. The demonstration took place during the Agri Day celebration on November 28, 1917. The exhibit urged students and faculty to be less wasteful, conserve food, and manage food shortages as World War I raged on. (To learn more about Arkansas during “The Great War” or how you can take part in commemoration, please visit the Arkansas War War I Centennial Commission.”)
The club members developed menus for meatless, wheatless, and sweetless days. Sample dishes were prepared using native Arkansas products, such as sweet potatoes, apples, nuts, and persimmons.
Some of the 1917 substitutions are still relevant today as many manage dietary restrictions. Sugar was substituted with syrup, honey, and sorghum, while raisins, dates, figs, and prunes were used to sweeten cereal. In place of wheat flour, bread was made with rye flour, cotton seed meal, barley, and sweet potatoes. Meatless day menus included peas, beans, and cheese.
The demonstrations made an impact on the campus community. The Arkansas Traveler reported on January 10, 1918 that over 600 students were eating “patriot meals” by cutting back on wheat, meat, and sugar in the dormitories, sororities, and fraternities. The Arkansas Traveler reported “All organizations have cut sacrifices, especially in the number of desserts.” A sacrifice indeed.
For more information about the thousands of resources preserving the history of Arkansas available through the University of Arkansas Libraries, contact Special Collections, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the department in Mullins Library.