Nothing screams more British than the match made in heaven of the crispy fried fish and slightly salted golden chips. That’s why it was not a surprise when during World War II, when the chaos of bombings, death, uncertainties, and nonstop fighting wore the soldiers of Britain down, one thing that cheered them up was the homey taste of their beloved meal. I mean, you could take their ships, or planes, maybe ammunition, but not their fish and chips!

Anything but the Fish and Chips

During both World Wars, the demand for military production in supply chains caused a shortage of daily staples in the country, be it food, garments, and other seemingly normal supplies before the war. Tea and biscuits, even though they were symbols of British culture, were also part of the supplies that were regulated.

Avenida Papagayo in Playa Blanca, Yaiza, Lanzarote, Canary Islands. (Frank VincentzCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

But not fish and chips— the extremely popular 1800s meal that no one really knew where exactly originated from but since then became a British staple with over 20,000 shops selling across Britain in the 20th century— and was made consistently available both during World War I and II, as they worried that the lack of this meal would crush the morale of the troops.


To make sure that whatever small supplies were left would be distributed fairly to everyone, the British government implemented rationing with fuel, and then basic supplies like sugar, jams, eggs, and meat soon followed. Other supplies were not rationed, including fruits and vegetables, although the supply was still scarce. Everyone in Britain was given a ration book by the Ministry of Food, which they used to purchase food from specific shops accepting them. Each of these shops received an allocated amount of food that they could sell. The items were rationed using the points system based on their availability and demand, while supplies like milk and eggs were given to those who needed them most, like children and pregnant women.