This seems almost unreal but it was only in 1954, the year that I was born, that war time food rationing was officially ended on July 4th. It began in January 1940 when bacon, butter and sugar were rationed and this was followed soon after by meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit. As the Second World War progressed, most kinds of food came to be rationed along with clothing and petrol. My parents were issued with a ration card for me but never had to use it because it all stopped three weeks after I was born.
The last food item to be released from the shackles of rationing was bananas, which for me is quite a significant fact. Dad loved bananas and I could never quite understand why but I suppose he was only twenty-two in 1954 and hadn’t had the pleasure for fifteen years and in fact it is quite possible I suppose that he had never had a banana before in his life. The return of the banana was hailed as heralding an end to austerity and to the curse of the ration book. The Labour government even instigated a national banana day.
He liked all sorts of strange banana combinations, weirdest of all being banana sandwiches on brown bread with sugar, but he was also very fond of chopped bananas with custard. Personally I’ve never been that keen on bananas at all but this rationing fact explains a lot about my dad’s unusual dietary preferences. Once a week we all had to have bananas for a pudding until one day when I was about fifteen I could take it no longer and I refused to eat them. It was the only time I can remember him getting really upset with me but I stood my ground and after he had severely chastised me and refused to let me leave the table I think he ate them up for me because he liked them so much.
At about the same time dad used to turn his nose up at a chip butty and found this quite unacceptable, which for a man who would slap a banana between two slices of bread was always a mystery to me.
Interesting Banana facts:
Bananas are now the most popular fruit in the UK with Britons eating an average of between 25 and 30lbs of fruit each year; more than double the amount consumed 15 years ago. Annual UK sales are at a record £750m, representing more than a quarter of all fruit sales
In an average year we now buy 3.5 billion pieces of the tropical fruit, relegating our native apple into a poor second place.
By one measure we apparently spend more money on bananas than any other supermarket item apart from petrol and lottery tickets, and more than 95% of UK households buy them every week.