15 Weird Foods That Were Common During The Great Depression & Will Come Back Soon! - Epic Economist
The Great Depression was an era of scarcity induced-creativity. With millions of people out of work and widespread shortages of foods and goods, families had a hard time scraping money together to feed their children. They had to make things work without household staples and other products that weren’t readily available at the stores when they needed them. Their innovations came out of necessity – from women dying their legs with tea instead of using stockings to men mending their shoes with cardboard, Americans during the Great Depression used their resourcefulness to make do with what little they had. Inventiveness became a survival mechanism.
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Soup kitchens sprung up across the country to ensure that unemployed workers got at least one meal daily. It was precisely in the kitchen that you could see the biggest reflection of the ingenuity and the desperation of that era. Those who lived in rural areas typically planted gardens and raised chickens and cows. Men used to go to the woods to hunt and fish. New recipes were concocted, and many food combinations that would be considered disgusting today were actually delicacies during that time.
For example, people used to eat snapping turtles. Snapping turtles are cold-blooded reptiles and a cousin to lizards, snakes, and alligators. On average, they weigh 10 to 36 pounds each. Capturing them is not easy. They hiss like a cat if you get too close, and their jaws can easily bite off a finger. Folklore claims that the head can still bite you even after a snapping turtle is beheaded. While that may be a part of the myth, turtles could be acquired in the spring during mating season when they were on the move and were spotted crossing roads. When they leave their natural water environment, they’re much easier to catch. Turtle soup is essentially a vegetable stew with green onions, carrots, and turtle meat instead of beef or chicken. People say it tastes like a combination of pork, clams, and chicken thighs. Although it may seem weird, this soup was a way to survive during such hard times. Today, they’re still considered a delicacy in many famous restaurants.
Spurred on by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who encouraged families to save money and resources by practicing savvier home economics, many meals that people didn’t consider eating were now consumed without question. In face of hunger and misery, our society was forced to adapt.
It’s safe to say that many of these dishes aren’t for the faint of heart – or the weak of stomach. But at the end of the day, they represent the American spirit of adaptability, resilience, and for better or worse, creativity. Food scarcity was real, and some people who lived through the Depression never overcame the fear of going to bed hungry.
As hard as times were, families kept trying to find ways to survive the storm, and they did. We have a lot to learn from our ancestors because one day, we will need to develop our own sense of resourcefulness too. The recipes of that period may come back to our tables as the economy moves towards another devastating crisis. That’s why today, we decided to compile unusual foods that were very popular in the 1930s.
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