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Keywords

Black market; Nevada; Rationing; War -- Economic aspects; World War (1939-1945)

Abstract

After the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Americans braced themselves for what would surely be a long, hard-fought war. In World War II, brave young United States soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice across the seas on both the European and Pacific fronts. However, the millions of citizens on domestic soil also made countless sacrifices in a national mobilization to support the war effort. People in Nevada and across the nation gave up everyday conveniences and seemingly ordinary items to show their support for the troops. Government agencies instituted tight rationing guidelines on a variety of consumer goods. Perhaps the most highly regulated rationing involved raw materials of the transportation sector. Gasoline, rubber, steel, and aluminum were carefully rationed, and a limited supply was available to the public. Other consumer goods such as clothes and shoes were rationed as well so that manufacturers could focus their production on the needs of the soldiers. Perhaps above all, Americans remember the daily sacrifices of one of life‘s most basic necessities: food. Dietary staples such as meat, coffee, and sugar were rationed to the consumer by the federal government. Price ceilings and strict rationing regulations of food products resulted in widespread black market practices in Nevada and across the nation during World War II. This essay will analyze the specific government policies and regulations placed on sugar, coffee, and meat, while exploring the public reactions and the consequential black market practices that became commonplace in American society.