Victory Gardens Were a Patriotic Way of Life

Victory Garden

During World War I, a severe food crisis emerged in Europe as agricultural workers were recruited into military service and farms were transformed into battlefields. As a result, the burden of feeding millions of starving people fell to the United States. In March of 1917¬—just weeks before the United States entered the war—Charles Lathrop Pack organized the National War Garden Commission to encourage Americans to contribute to the war effort by planting, fertilizing, harvesting and storing their own fruits and vegetables so that more food could be exported to our allies. Citizens were urged to utilize all idle land that was not already engaged in agricultural production—including school and company grounds, parks, backyards or any available vacant lots.

Victory GardenPromoted through propaganda posters advocating that civilians “Sow the seeds of victory” by planting their own vegetables, the war garden movement (as it was originally known) was spread by word of mouth through numerous women’s clubs, civic associations and chambers of commerce, which actively encouraged participation in the campaign. Amateur gardeners were provided with instruction pamphlets on how, when and where to sow, and were offered suggestions as to the best crops to plant, along with tips on preventing disease and insect infestations. The endeavor was so well received that the government turned its attention to distributing canning and drying manuals to help people preserve their surplus crops. In addition to the appeal to men and women, the federal Bureau of Education initiated a U.S. School Garden Army (USSGA) to mobilize children to enlist as “soldiers of the soil.” As a result of these combined efforts, 3 million new garden plots were planted in 1917 and more than 5.2 million were cultivated in 1918, which generated an estimated 1.45 million quarts of canned fruits and vegetables. By the end of World War I, the campaign promoting home gardens—which by then were referred to as “victory gardens”—had dropped off, but many people continued to maintain them.

Shortly after the United States was drawn into the Second World War, victory gardens began to reemerge. Once again, commercial crops were diverted to the military overseas while transportation was redirected towards moving troops and munitions instead of food. With the introduction of food rationing in the United States in the spring of 1942, Americans had an even greater incentive to grow their own fruits and vegetables in whichever locations they could find: small flower boxes, apartment rooftops, backyards or deserted lots of any size. Amid protests from the Department of Agriculture, Eleanor Roosevelt even planted a victory garden on the White House lawn.

Some of the most popular produce grown included beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, turnips, squash and Swiss chard. Through the distribution of several million government-sponsored pamphlets, fledgling farmers were advised to maximize their garden’s productivity by practicing succession planting, and were encouraged to record the germination rates of seeds, along with any diseases or insects they may have encountered, in order to minimize waste and improve their garden’s output the following year.

Throughout both world wars, the Victory Garden campaign served as a successful means of boosting morale, expressing patriotism, safeguarding against food shortages on the home front, and easing the burden on the commercial farmers working arduously to feed troops and civilians overseas. In 1942, roughly 15 million families planted victory gardens; by 1944, an estimated 20 million victory gardens produced roughly 8 million tons of food—which was the equivalent of more than 40 percent of all the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States. Although the government’s promotion of victory gardens ended with the war, a renaissance movement has sprouted up in recent years in support of self-sufficiency and eating seasonally to improve health through local, organic farming and sustainable agriculture.

Do You Remember Tom Corbett, Space Cadet?

Tom Corbett Space Cadet

As television rose to prominence in the early 1950’s, it provided a new entertainment frontier for science fiction to conquer. The result was a flood of sci-fi shows like Captain VideoSpace Patrol, and the ever-popular Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Tom Corbett began his life as a character in Robert Heinlein’s 1948 novel Space Cadet. Two years later, he received his own 15-minute television show. That program’s success inspired a wide-range of tie-in items that included eight novels, a line of comic books, Halloween costumes, and (of course) plenty of toys.

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet stood apart from other space operas of the time because its main character was a teen. Since the show’s kid viewers identified with Tom, it was natural that they would want to re-enact his adventures at the Space Academy when playtime rolled around. Toy manufacturers picked up on this and produced a large assortment of toys for budding space cadets to snap up. Like many shows of its era, Tom Corbett, Space Cadetmade toys available for its fans both at toy stores and as premium items available by mail or inside cereal boxes.

Tom Corbett Space Cadet

Premium toys included rocket balloons, a membership kit that came complete with a decoder, a cardboard helmet with a one-way plastic “viewport,” and space goggles. One of the most amusing premium items was a set of ‘Space-O-Phones,’ a futuristic-looking plastic update of the ‘tin-can telephones’ that had been popular with kids for decades. There were also Tom Corbett, Space Cadet premiums that fans could get by purchasing the item they came with, like the free Space Rings inside boxes of Pep Cereal.

In the toy stores, Corbett fanatics could treat themselves to an array of space gadgetry. The coolest of these by far were the colorful, handsomely designed ray gun toys. There was the Space Cadet Sparkling Gun, a tommy-gun-like toy that spat sparks, and the Atomic Pistol, which let out a beam of light and made a buzzing noise when fired. Other interstellar weaponry included the Space Gun and the Space Rifle. The latter looked like a comic book weapon brought to life, making it a prized find for sci-fi toy collectors today.

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet ended its successful run in 1955, and the toy line was retired around that time. No attempts have been made to revive the show since then, but the popularity of the show and the merchandise it inspired live on today. Corbett merchandise, especially the prized toy ray guns, regularly changes hands among collectors and traders. The continued popularity of these toys is easy to understand—as long as people have a soft spot for the sci-fi shows that fired their imaginations as children, there will always be room on the collector’s shelf for Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

Hawaiian Baked Beans and Franks Recipes

Hawaiian Beans and Franks


Hawaiian Baked Beans and Franks


1 1/2 cups drained crushed pineapple
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard
2 cans (16 oz.) baked beans
1 lb hot dogs, sliced into one inch pieces


Pre-heat oven to 350º.  Drain pineapple well.  Combine pineapple with remaining ingredients in a 2-quart casserole dish.  Bake for 1 hour.  Makes 6 – 8 servings.

Freckle-Face Taters Recipe


“A family favorite with the real country tang of Tabasco brand pepper sauce.”


Freckle-Face Taters


2 large potatoes, backed
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup crushed croutons or bread crumbs


Quarter hot potatoes lengthwise, and place in a bake-and-serve dish.  Sprinkle grated cheese over potatoes.  Melt butter or margarine in skillet and add remaining ingredients, stirring until crushed croutons are moist.  Crumble mixture over potatoes and broil until cheese has browned.

Crazy Berry Blue Pie Recipe


It’s just all mixed up.  It’s just all delicious.

Outwardly, it looks normal.  But slice it, and it’s pie of another color!  It’s crazy.  It’s lavender blue.  A deliriously thick, creamy, lavender blue.  With berries mixed madly through it.

And it gets mixed up with no eggs, no sugar, no whipping, and no creaming.  But that’s what happens when you take Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, and Comstock Blueberry Pie Filling and mix them up.  Something wonderful and crazy happens.


Crazy Berry Blue Pie Recipe

  • One 9-inch graham pie crust
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberry pie filling

Put water and gelatin in small sauce pan.  Place over direct heat, and stir until dissolved or mixture is clear.

In medium size bowl, combine condensed milk and lemon juice.  Stir in gelatin mixture.  Fold in sour cream.  Min in 1 1/4 cups of the pie filling.

Turn into crust.  Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours, then garnish pie top with remaining chilled pie filling.