We may think of World War One as having been exclusively fought by the "doughboys," sailors, and airmen over in the trenches of France and Belgium. However, civilians in the home front--especially housewives--were encouraged to do their part to ensure their support for the American war effort. In no place was this more evident than in grocery stores and kitchens across the country. For the first time in American history, civilians were encouraged to drastically change their eating habits in order to aid the military.
Shortly after declaring war on Germany in April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson realized that food was just as vital as munitions and fuel in aiding the American war effort. He established the U.S Food Administration in order to set guidelines for food production and rationing among the American populace. In addition to feeding its own army, America also had to provide food for its allies and refugees in Europe. Americans could no longer afford to be wasteful in their eating and grocery shopping habits.
Seeking the perfect man to lead this new task, Wilson recruited mining magnate and foreign aid worker Herbert Hoover to head the Food Administration. Having earned a reputation for effectively distributing food and humanitarian aid to the refugees of France and Belgium early in the war, Hoover was well suited to the task of managing the culinary needs of Americans. Hoover's Food Administration successfully convinced Americans from all walks of life to do with less: eat less, buy only what is needed, and conserve food products whenever possible. He also encouraged Americans to observe "Meatless Mondays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays" to further drive his point home. So pervasive was this sense of voluntary thriftiness that making do with less came to be known as "Hooverizing!"