A vegetarian grocery bill from 1941

Some weeks ago OxVeg member Anne Orgee sent me a scanned copy of the grocery bill above, which is dated 19 November 1941. The bill is made out to Anne’s aunt Winifred Brown (née Whitehouse) of Hillingdon, Middlesex, who along with her husband Jimmy was a vegetarian. The bill provides a fascinating insight into the kind of foods that were available to vegetarians at a time of food rationing. The shopping list starts with the cooking fats nut oil, olive oil and ‘Suenut’, a vegetarian alternative to suet. Honey, cashew kernels (nuts), red lentils, wholemeal macaroni, peanut butter and rolled oats are all items that we are familiar with today, and ‘Yeastact’ was presumably a type of yeast extract. Among the more exotic items on the list is matte tea, a caffeine-rich infused drink traditional to South America, which would have provided an alternative to coffee and leaf tea, beverages likely to have been in short supply at the time. Soya bean flour would have been used to add protein (and bulk) to home-baked foods, and ‘Granose Rissolnut’ was a 1940s forerunner of the Granose range of savoury meat-free convenience foods found in health food shops today. The only item on the list of unknown provenance is ‘Sausage Meat Saxon’, presumably a meat-free alternative to beef and pork sausages. The groceries were supplied by George Savage & Sons, “dealers in olive oil, honey, nut kernels, sun-dried fruits, &c, (and) sole manufacturers of the ‘Nu-Era’ foods”, whose retail health store and warehouse was located in Newington Causeway, London, SE1, and the bill came to one pound, ten shillings and eleven pence halfpenny.

Paul Appleby


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