A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


Baking and Buying

74% of all the housewives interviewed bake cakes. Half of these bake once a week, one tenth more than once, and the rest less.

The 26% who do not bake give, in two thirds of the cases, lack of ingredients as a reason.

80% of the housewives buy cakes.

59% bought them in the week before the interview. These two figures have been the same in three different inquiries.

Two-fifths of these who bought cakes in the week before the interview, bought them more than once.

The 20% who do not buy cakes give as a reason in the majority of cases, the fact that the quality of bought cakes is too poor to make a purchase worth while.

7½d. on an average is spent on cakes, buns etc. per head of household per week by the housewives who buy cakes.

Cakes bought by other members of the family

21% of the housewives are sure that other members of their household buy cakes for their own consumption, but there are many housewives who do not know what other members of their household do.

Cakes in packed meals

36% of the housewives pack up cakes for some or all members of their family to take to work or school.

The sharing of cakes

38% of the housewives share the cakes bought by themselves equally amongst all the members of their family. The majority of families have some member or members, who eat most of the cakes.

Kind of cakes bought

66% of the housewives bought small cakes during the week before the interview including buns, scones and small tarts etc. and spend on an average 4½d. per head per week.

63% bought slab cake in the week before the interview, and spent 5½d. per head on it.

23% bought sponge cakes and spent 3¾d. per head on them.

Two-thirds of the housewives who buy cakes feel satisfied with their quality. The other third, in about equal parts, feels either that the quality is bad, or that, if it is not very bad, it is not very good.

26% of the housewives cannot get as many small cakes as they want.

34% cannot get as much slab cake, and

38% cannot get as many sponges as they want.

Shops at which cakes are bought

61% of all housewives buy cakes at bakers and confectioners.

20% buy at large stores or Co-operative Societies.

18% at small grocers, and

8% at “Home Made” shops or small cafes.


Day on which cakes are bought

29% buy on special days,

Two-thirds of all purchases are made at the week-end, (Fridays and Saturdays).


18% of all housewives who bought cakes in the week preceding investigation stood in queues. Of these, nearly half queued more than once a week. The main queueing takes place at the week-end.

18% of those who bought small cakes queued.

26% who bought slab cake, and

27% who bought sponge cakes queued.

47% of the housewives who bought cakes said there were no queues at the shops where they bought their cakes.

Working women

Working women do not bake or buy less than women who have household duties only, but their time table is shifted and they bake and buy much more at week-ends than the others. They queue slightly less than those who have household duties only.

The poorer women

The only economic group in which housewives differ in their baking and buying habits is the poorest group with the wage rate of the chief wage-earner under £2.10.-d. These buy and bake considerably less than do the others.

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