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  Themes Homepage > The Second World War
 
Biscuits
The Second World War

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Huntley & Palmers preparations for war had started in 1937 and they responded rapidly to the changes necessary for a country in a state of war. By the end of 1939 they were already producing 'emergency bread'. This was made from locally grown wheat baked in sealed tins to preserve it in perfect condition. It tasted like toasted bread and was guaranteed by Huntley & Palmers to last for 10 years.
Employees sealing tins of Emergency Bread, 1939
Employees sealing tins of Emergency Bread, 1939
 
Marie biscuit found after Blitz, 1941
Marie biscuit found after Blitz, 1941

Saving the Biscuits
The defeat of France in 1940 led to fears of a German invasion of Britain. The director requested that samples of each of the 400 varieties of biscuit were placed in airtight tins so as to be able to ascertain the correct weight and design of each biscuit after the war.
 
Rationing
In 1942 biscuits became one of the foods being rationed for the public. The rationing scheme encouraged people to buy quality biscuits to obtain 'value for points' which worked in Huntley & Palmers favour against some of the cheaper biscuit manufacturers. By the time that biscuits came off ration points, the cost between quality and cheap manufacture had narrowed mainly due to the introduction of automatic machinery.
Ration Book, 1946
Ration Book, 1946
 
It was during the war that the factory reconstruction committee was set-up to consider how it could reorganise production in peace-time at the lowest possible cost consistent with the company's traditional standards. Its first interim report included the statement that to earn the kind of profit required they would need to reduce the number of varieties from 400 to around 120. Memories of wartime shortages, 1997
Memories of wartime shortages, 1997
 
 
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  Themes Homepage > The Second World War
 
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