Wartime Ads for Coffee


Nerman’s, a local secondhand bookstore, shut its doors last month and during the weeks leading up to the final closing, I explored some of its historic treasures. It’s a good thing I live on the other end of town because I could have spent too many hours in that dusty, musty place on Osborne. As it was, I got myself a nice stack of Second World War era magazines and a few memorable Nancy Drew books. 

Perusing a now eighty-year-old April 12, 1943 Life magazine I was struck by war ads. Whether it was about women preening themselves for their soldier, use of food rations, cigarettes, alcohol, rubber or good walking shoes, the ads give a great insight to life inside the States back when a world war completely overshadowed normal life.


Just a few weeks ago I blogged about the Kaffee und Kuchen ritual in my immigrant family and friends.  Coffee, of course, is a staple in many western homes. 

Nescafé was the coffee of choice when real ‘bean’ coffee wasn’t available and all week long, my dad—an avid coffee drinker—would only drink Nescafé.  It was the go-to brand for all the adults I knew. 

During the war, Nescafé—according to this ad in the Life magazine—was not available to civilians. It was all being sent to the Armed Forces. A history of how Nescafé served armies and then civilians in occupied Europe after the war is available on the Nescafé website. 

So the next time I line up for my latte, cappuccino or Americano, I might sip with more of an appreciation of living a rather privileged, entitled and self-indulgent life. I hope that good coffee is still being poured and sipped on Ukraine’s bloody eastern front. I never want to taste my coffee without tasting the gift of peace.  Ersatz coffee, made of chicory or dandelion roots might look like coffee, but it will always be a poor substitute for the aroma and jolt of real coffee! 


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