During World War II, food was rationed in the UK, and some staples and treats weren’t available at all. That included bananas, because the refrigerated ships that imported them were diverted for the war effort. The lack of bananas seemed to be a special privation, as their distinctive sweet taste became a memory, and as the war dragged on some children grew up not knowing that taste. The Ministry of Food tried to help citizens substitute foods that were available for those that were not, such as sausages made out of lentils and oyster soup containing artichokes instead of oysters. And then there were mock bananas. Carolyn Ekin wrote a blog post with a mock banana recipe and stirred up memories.
While it is difficult to determine just how commonplace mock bananas were during the war, readers readily responded to Ekin’s recreation by recalling their own encounters with the dish. “I remember a dear friend telling me she made this for her husband who loved it, thinking she had got hold of bananas in wartime,” writes one reader, “but when he found out the truth, he refused to eat any more.”
So what exactly was a “mock banana”? What could possibly substitute for the world’s favorite fruit? Find out at Atlas Obscura.