Program to highlight home front during WWII


SUNBURY — Van Young is returning to the Big Walnut Area Historical Society to talk about “WWII – The Homefront.” The virtual program, which will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, May 17, will be available via Zoom.

Many Americans are aware of the tremendous contributions the military men and women made during WWII, yet what is sometimes forgotten are the hardships and sacrifices U.S. citizens made on the home front during the war.

Young’s talk describes the toll of the rationing programs, shortages, our economy, and the effect they had on families and workers between 1941-1945. “It was American patriotism at its best,” notes Young.

Sunbury’s Nestlés was one of the many companies across the country which shifted gears for the war effort. While primarily making baby food, a small group in the corner figured out how to make an instant coffee to speed up their coffee breaks. They named the instant coffee Nescafe.

Everyone knew you needed to perk or drip coffee for the best flavor, but if you are eating rations in the jungle, you are grateful for a quick cup of coffee, noted one of the servicemen who wrote to The Sunbury News. Although much of the research happened elsewhere, in 1939, before convenience foods were popular, Sunbury produced 350 pounds of instant coffee an hour. In 1943, Nestlés received the Army-Navy E Award for high achievement in producing Nescafe for every serviceman’s ration pack. By war’s end, the award had been earned by only 5% of the more than 85,000 companies involved in producing materials for the U.S. military’s war effort.

The pleasant aroma of brewed coffee covered the area and resulted in more than one person stopping in the town to inquire about its source. The cup on top of the plant with the steam coming up from behind it became a Sunbury trademark.

Patriotic, yes, but also great publicity. Servicemen and women came home wanting that quick cup of coffee. Nestlès went on to develop caffeine-free Nescafe, Nestea, then freeze-dried Taster’s Choice.

Young will remind us of all the many items the public went without or collected for the war effort.

Myers Inn Museum in Sunbury is open by appointment. Call 740-965-3582 to schedule a tour. Please call at least 24 hours in advance and leave a message on the answering machine. Visitors must wear masks and enter by the ramp door.

Submitted story

Submitted by the Big Walnut Area Historical Society.

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