Sugar Substitutes From the WW2 Home Front

WW@ Era U.S. Government Sugar Rationing Poster
WW2 Era U.S. Government Poster

It seems like all we ever hear about sugar is how bad it is for you. I have to agree, to a point. I love sweets and I love baking. I also prefer using real sugar for cooking and baking and I’ve never poisoned anyone. However, too much of anything–sugar, salt, or even protein, is not good for anyone.

There are plenty of sugar substitutes out there, but I also think some of them may do more harm than sugar allegedly does. For instance, I won’t allow Equal in my house because it’s aspartame. Nor will I buy diet drinks or any other food product containing Equal, or aspartame.

I’ve also tried baking with Spenda. It wasn’t bad, but my cookies came out much better when I used real sugar. Then a friend suggested I try stevia, as it’s a natural product. I tried it and I love it. I now use stevia products made specifically for baking, such as Stevia in the Raw, and so far I’ve been pleased with the results. While still not quite as good as using real sugar, so far everything I’ve tried has come out with much better texture than the Spenda baked products.

During WW2, when sugar was in short supply, chefs and housewives alike also had to find sugar alternatives. Today’s common sugar substitutes, such as Spenda and Equal were unheard of at that time, so natural sugar substitutes were used. These natural substitutes can still be used today by health conscious cooks and bakers who enjoy sweet treats but want to avoid unnatural sweeteners. Below is a chart from Rosie’s Riveting Recipes on natural sweeteners which can be used as sugar substitutes. The amount of each listed is equal to one cup of sugar.

Enjoy your sweet treats.


  • Maple sugar — 1 cup
  • Maple syrup — 1 cup
  • Honey — 1 cup
  • Sorghum syrup — 1 1/2 cups
  • Cane syrup — 1 1/2 cups
  • Corn syrup — 2 cups