Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 59° Clear
News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Davenport, other restaurants raise potato prices in response to war-time vegetable shortages

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 22, 2017

Davenport’s Restaurant was now charging an extra five cents for any meal with potatoes and other restaurants had followed suit as a result of vegetable shortages caused, in part, by war in Europe, The Spokesman-Review reported on Feb. 22, 1917. The newspaper also reported that a Puyallup cannery owner came to Green Bluff to ask fruit growers if they would like to have a branch cannery. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Davenport’s Restaurant was now charging an extra five cents for any meal with potatoes and other restaurants had followed suit as a result of vegetable shortages caused, in part, by war in Europe, The Spokesman-Review reported on Feb. 22, 1917. The newspaper also reported that a Puyallup cannery owner came to Green Bluff to ask fruit growers if they would like to have a branch cannery. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The lowly potato was making front page news because its price “continues to soar.”

The Spokesman-Review said that the potato would soon be “classed as a luxury,” and that Davenport’s Restaurant was now charging an extra five cents for any meal with potatoes. Other restaurants had followed suit.

The potato wasn’t the only “lowly vegetable” to soar in price. A steak was now costing an extra nickel if “smothered in onions.”

This was a symptom of a larger national food shortage. The country’s potato harvest had been uncommonly small. In other short harvest years, the U.S. had imported potatoes from Europe, but it could not do that in 1917 because of the war in Europe and the peril faced by Atlantic merchant ships.

From the cannery beat: A Puyallup cannery owner came to Green Bluff to ask fruit growers if they would like to have a branch cannery.

He told them that they would earn four cents a pound for strawberries, three cents a pound for gooseberries, and between three and four cents for cherries.

The cannery owner said that fresh fruit was an uncertain business and that a “cannery will put you on the safe side.”

The Green Bluff schoolhouse was “packed” with growers for the meeting and the strawberry growers indicated a “unanimous sentiment” in favor of a cannery.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.