World War I in Lawrence: Residents urged to cut back on sugar

Editor’s note: Local writer Sarah St. John compiles reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence 100 years ago during World War I.

Among the food restrictions imposed by the war were limitations on meat, wheat products, and sugar — the latter being especially difficult for families attempting home-canning of their garden produce. As hot weather arrived in the area, Federal Food Administrator Walter P. Innes announced a new rule intended to make the sweetener go a little further. According to the Daily Journal-World for June 12, 1918: “Kansas eating houses were asked … to help eliminate loss of sugar in ice tea by serving sugar in envelopes instead of allowing customers to help themselves. Iced liquids are poor solvents for sugar. As a result much settles to the bottom of the glass without giving out much sweetening. Frequently customers leave from an inch to an inch and a half of sugar in the bottom of their glasses. If a smaller portion was put in the glass and well stirred all would dissolve and the tea would be just as sweet as if four or five heaping spoons full of sugar were heaped in a glass and allowed to settle. Some restaurants report sugar purchases have doubled since the opening of the ice tea season…. Mr. Innes today asked the press to convey the following message…. ‘The Food Administrator for Kansas asks every proprietor of an eating house to serve an envelope containing not more than two teaspoons full of sugar with each glass of ice tea served, and to remove sugar bowls from the tables … Sugar saving is important so that the canning needs of the householder and the requirements of our Allies and armed forces may be met.'”

Lawrence soft-drink bottlers were also feeling the sugar shortage. “We have as yet made no use of sugar substitutes,” said J. H. Wilder, manager of the Lawrence Bottling Company. He added that a movement had been started among bottlers to “permit the use of saccharin in the manufacture of soft drinks for the time of the war.”


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