After the Second World War began in September 1939 the first commodity to be controlled was petrol. On 8 January 1940 bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. This was followed by successive ration schemes for meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, lard, milk, and canned and dried fruit. Almost all foods apart from vegetables and bread were rationed by August 1942. Strict rationing inevitably created a black market. Almost all controlled items were rationed by weight, but meat was rationed by price.
Most controversial was bread; it was not rationed until after the war ended, but the “national loaf” of wholemeal bread replaced the ordinary white variety, to the distaste of most housewives who found it mushy, grey and easy to blame for digestion problems. An order was passed that bread must not be sold to a customer until the day after it was baked: the stated reasons were to reduce usage because “(1) it is difficult to slice just-baked bread thinly, (2) the tastiness of just-baked bread is likely to encourage people to eat it immoderately”