Whiskey and Wartime

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January 10, 2013 by Bourbon Empire

“Good cheer is a weapon, too!” That’s the message from this WWII-era ad promoting wine, which didn’t eat up valuable ration points. People could use it at home without having to worry about using resources needed on the front. Still, most soldiers probably preferred fighting the enemy with guns rather than hospitality.

wine wartime rationing

Bourbon, on the other hand, was a different story. The grains used to make it were valuable as food. Many distilleries during the war also converted their operations to make alcohol for industrial uses. Many bourbon ads during the war urged customers to be patient while bourbon was in short supply.

My favorite ads, however, are these ones for Hiram Walker’s Imperial Whiskey. They’re a reminder of how much WWII affected the daily lives of Americans not overseas — a sharp difference from recent wars that seem distant and far away. I’d also be curious to see how the copy from these ads, promoting a collective group effort, would carry in today’s political climate. The second promotes rationing by showing a shark trying to eat a school of smaller fish. It says “Mr. Big — no banquets! There can’t be feasts for the big or there’ll be oblivion for the little.” The context for that message today is entirely different, but the message still holds.

Imperial _ freedom feast

Imperial Whiskey no feasts shark

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