The Things Poor People Will Eat To Keep From Starving To Death (VIDEO)

Poor people will eat just about anything to keep from starving to death. There are some absolutely horrid things and a few things that are still eaten today.

1. Peanut Butter Stuffed Onions

Photo: Sally Loeb/Arthur Rothstein

Food historians Andrew Coe and Jane Ziegelman, authors of A Square Meal, prepared peanut butter stuffed onions once. Ziegelman said the experience of eating it was “surreal.” The Bureau of Home Economics urged housewives to serve this to their children.

2. Spaghetti With Boiled Carrots and White Sauce

US Army photo via Wikimedia available in the Public Domain

The First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt promoted this concoction. The “white sauce” was milk, butter, and salt. She promoted many nasty things in order to keep people fed during the Great Depression.

3. Ritz Mock Apple Pie

This “apple pie” substituted crackers for apples. Yummy. We’re pretty sure that Nabisco promoted this recipe, for obvious reasons. Makes you want to run right out and give this one a try, right?

Image courtesy of Beyond Chicken Soup


  • 36 Ritz crackers
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Grated lemon rind
  • Butter or margarine
  • Cinnamon


  1. Break up the Ritz crackers into a pastry-lined plate.
  2. Combine water, sugar, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Boil them gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and cool.
  4. Pour syrup over crackers.
  5. Dot with butter.
  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  7. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.

4. Mulligan Stew

Photo: Chicago Daily News, Library of Congress/via Wikimedia/Public Domain

Not absolutely horrid, Mulligan’s Stew is basically hobo food. It’s made with onions, corn, potatoes, foraged greens, “bits and pieces” of meat, and the secret ingredient of tobacco. Pretty much any ingredient could be added to the stew. Many additions were often stolen and carried with the hobos for long periods of time before being added to the pot, making it not always the tastiest stew you’ve ever had.

5. Various Odd “Loaves”

Meatloaf, along with other types of “loaves,” became popular during the Great Depression. It was a way to make casseroles with what little food the people had. Ziegelman said:

“Loaves were very popular. There was peanut loaf, liver loaf, bean loaf. They were made from an ingredient and a cheap thing that stretches the ingredient out. Imagine eating enough peanuts to serve as your dinner.”

I can’t even imagine what liver loaf is, but it sounds disgusting.

6. “Milkorno”

Milk and corn mixed together became the “superfood” of the Depression. It was used in desserts like an Apple Brown Betty and dinner casseroles as well. Here is just one of the many recipes people made with Milkorno:

Milkorno Polenta with Tomato Sauce:

1 1/2 cups cooked Milkorno.*
1/4 cup grated cheese
1 cup tomato sauce

Place spoonfuls of hot Milkorno on a platter. Pour hot tomato sauce over them, and sprinkle with grated cheese.

*To make a batch of Milkorno, mix 2 parts corn meal with 1 part powdered skim milk. For the polenta recipe, mix 1 cup of corn meal with a 1/2 cup of powdered skim milk and 3 to 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

7. One bright spot …

During the Great Depression, the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dinner was born. In 1936, one salesman was selling packages of Tenderoni Macaroni with packets of Kraft processed cheese attached. Kraft hired him and began selling the noodles and cheese together under the Kraft label at 19 cents per serving.

Image from idsgn

Take a look at what dinner was like during the Great Depression.

Featured image via YouTube screenshot.

Special H/T to Ranker, where they have a longer list of these delicacies.

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