Two topics–Halloween and The Hoover Pledge–seem to have nothing in common, and yet they do. 100 years ago on October 30, 1917 the Nashua Telegraph was promoting both Halloween events and the signing of the “Hoover Pledge.”
A headline blares, “City Being Roused To Need of Food Conservation Move” — Six thousand Nashua women must sign these pledge cards this week for New Hampshire has pledged her women for FOOD CONSERVATION….volunteers who will sign the Hoover pledge card and then live up to the pledge through the weary months that must follow.”
On that very same page Johnny Cake Inn’s advertisement appears for a Halloween Party with special music, dancing and good dinner. A second ad by Philip Morris & Co, of 83 Main Street in Nashua says, “HALLOWE’EN NIGHT. Parties and Visits are in Order. The mysteries are in the air, ghosts and witches everywhere. Party decorations here, all sorts of kinds, and prices very reasonable. Hallowe’en greeting cards and booklets. Why not remember the friend away with a dainty card. We have many choice ones. Priced from one cent upwards.”
A month later (in November of 1917) a second article appears about the Hoover Pledge which was intended to result in consistent living practices to conserve wheat, meat, fats and sugar in order to “mitigate the fear of famine later.” Keep the faith of the pledge cards. At this time three thousand more were needed to pledge to fill the quota. “No one would willingly prolong the war and yet those who refuse to cooperate in the saving of food are doing just this.”
It was not just women and individual families who were urged to conserve. Restaurants, hotels, clubs and any business establishment that served food was being asked not to serve food that contained wheat in order to be able to send those supplies to Europe.
It was “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” that may have helped win the war. According to the Mann Library, Cornell University, “Food Will Win the War” became the slogan and the Food Administration’s…posters, articles, workshops and education material resulted in a 15% reduction in domestic food consumption without rationing. This meant that in a 12-month period of 1918-1919, this country furnished 18,500,000 tons of food to the Allies.”
Why Was it Called the Hoover Pledge?
The pledge was named after Herbert Hoover (later President of the United States) was appointed head of the Food Administration. Before this position he was not only a business man, but also worked in relief work. He took no salary during this time.
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].