Ministry of Food

Lately I have been reading a lot about Utility design and rationing, a very fascinating topic.

Utility Furniture and Fashion 1941-1951 is a great little book explaining all the stages of the rationing era: how the utility furniture was designed, what pieces of clothing were allowed, there are examples of fabric design and the best posters ever. Simplicity is a must, but simplicity makes those things aesthetically appealing to me.

The Dig for Victory campaign is probably one of the best pieces of advertising ever made, clear message and striking imagery.

Fabric patterns:


When I visited Imperial War Museum back in January I almost screamed for joy when I saw the poster for the upcoming Ministry of Food exhibition. So yesterday I paid a visit.

To start with I wanted to buy everything from the exhibition shop, there were recipe books, candles, aprons to name a few, all very attractive looking.

The exhibition shows all aspects of food making process.

We start in a gardening section with a shed and accessories that wouldn’t feel out of place at Labour and Wait.

We had rationing books and examples of food rations – it was not a lot! There was also a shop with the most amazing packaging display, a lot of the brands are still available now.

There was a kitchen with very little on the table.

I will take this as a house inspiration.

I saw few examples of the most popular dishes and I can only imagine how dull it must have been with a Woolton pie being the most exciting thing on a plate. But I admire people for creativity, I remember potato stamps which used to amuse me as a child and got chucked afterward, back in the 40s after having a creative afternoon the stamps were cleaned and cooked for dinner.

The exhibition ended on a high note in a sweet shop.

The fashion was pretty amazing too, corduroy jodhpurs, shirt and a preppy v-neck worn with socks and lace up boots. Chic Land Girls are my new style inspiration.

This is one of the most informative, interesting and inspiring exhibitions I have ever seen.

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7 Responses to “Ministry of Food”

  1. skirmishofwit 11 April, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    What a fascinating post! After reading Kristina’s review of it too, I really want to go.

  2. jane 11 April, 2010 at 7:59 am #

    Ohh this looks brilliant! I really want to go too! I really love Labour and Wait – and it’s funny to think how inspiration has been taken from things which weren’t originally a matter of choice, but which now in so many respects seems far preferable to the over the top direction life and fashion often go in now.
    They ate their potato stamps though, oh my!
    Woolton pie sounds like an awful lot like Homity pie, of Cranks fame:
    … again, I suppose, something I like for its simplicity as well as its frugality. Although it does feel rather like lead shot in one’s stomach if you eat too much!!

  3. if jane 11 April, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    oh this would be interesting!!!

  4. The Sneaky Magpie 12 April, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    skirmishofwit: you will love it! and the shop is great too.

    jane: I know! trends and fashion in all aspects of life tend to make circles, I think L&W were really clever with their business model and did it before the recession made the austere look so popular. I kind of fancy the frugal pies at time to time but imagine when they are the best things you can have, can be tough. We are rather lucky or spoilt or both!

  5. The Sneaky Magpie 12 April, 2010 at 8:14 am #

    if jane: it is, I am so into that era at the moment.

  6. kristina 13 April, 2010 at 12:43 am #

    I was shocked when I read on the exhibition label they ate the potato stamps–just hope they gave them a good wash! And didn’t the ration books look frightfully complicated? K x

  7. The Sneaky Magpie 13 April, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    kristina: you are right, they were so complicated, the poor confused shop clerk trying to explain it to the customers! I thought it was funny on Princess Margaret’s book it said:
    Surname: Her Majesty
    Name: Princess Margaret
    But I was happy to see that the same rules applied to all.

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