Project 52: Rationing - Week 21 - G-I Fruit Bars

Happy Memorial Day! 

Don't you just love this little article? I love all the
 insight into how the boys in service made
such a "mad scramble when the box
was opened". 

We just got back from a homeschool conference down at Virginia Beach, VA. They had some field trips planned for the dads and kids and I went with my husband and kids to one that was on the Norfolk Navy Base. We got to see the navy helicopters and went on one of the active naval ships which was one of the most amazingly interesting tours I've been on in a really long time. 

Later when I was in one of the conference classes a navy jet roared overhead and it was loud. The presenter, though, put it into perspective right away. She said, "I know the jets are loud, but we love that sound. It's the sound of freedom and it's the sound of our navy keeping us safe, so we love our navy and the jets." I was astounded because I had never thought of that before, but how true her statement was. I am extremely grateful for the military and all of their hard work and sacrifice now and in the past to preserve our freedom.

In honor of Memorial Day I've been saving this special recipe for making G-I Fruit Bars. I found this recipe in the July 1944 issue of the Westinghouse Health-For-Victory magazine. I love all the sound advice this article (above right) gives for which type are the best cookies to send and how to take care in packaging them. I think it's still good advice for sending homemade cookies today!

As for the recipe itself, I was surprised how much sugar this recipe calls for. One cup of brown sugar and additional white sugar! You would have used a lot of your sugar ration just for these cookies. The cup of dried fruit lends quite a bit of sweetness itself.

Quick oats, lemon juice, flour, sugar, dried fruit, lemon peel, water, brown sugar, salt, milk, shortening
You start off by mincing the dried fruit. I used a combination of fig, apricot, apple, peach, and prune. Awhile back I found a big bag of mixed dried fruit at Costco and used a lot of that for the recipe. I can imagine you could just go for one type of dried fruit like apricots, raisins, fig, or even strawberry, though that would be an expensive option.
Minced dried fruit. I chopped the fruit the best I could with a knife, then finished it in the food processor to get it this fine.

Put the dried, minced dried fruit in a small pot with the water and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook until thick. Add the lemon juice & lemon rind. I only had orange rind, so I had to use that. You'll need to watch the fruit carefully, to prevent scorching.
minced dried fruit, sugar, & water

Cooked until thick
Meanwhile, combine the sifted flour, brown sugar, and salt.

Cut in the shortening until it resembles meal.

I didn't quite go for the meal texture, but I did my best...

Mix in the rolled oats and press half the mixture into the bottom of an 8x8 pan.

Spread the fruit mixture evenly over the bottom crust.

Press the remaining oat mixture over the fruit mixture.

Bake at 350º F for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool before cutting into bars. Okay, this is where it got tricky. The recipe says to cut 1" x 2" sized bars and that it makes 32 bars. I tried really hard to cut them that small, but could only squeeze 28 out. In today's society this pan would furnish between 9 & 12 portions. Cutting 28 pieces means for a small cookie, but after tasting them I thought the small size was just right.

These cookies are very rich and full-bodied in flavor. The oat mixture lends a wonderful texture to the sticky intenseness of the middle. I got mixed reviews from other people. The adults seemed to like them, while a few kids did not. I think it might have been the flavor combo of the fruit mixture. I think an all apricot or all strawberry would have gone over better. I liked it the way it was though. One of our guests commented on how they thought it tasted like a glorified Fig Newton. I can see how he's right!

G-I Fruit Bar



  1. Hello,
    These look very similar to a recipe my mother-in-law used to make called Raisin Mumbles. I've considered trying other dried fruit before, but didn't want to commit in-law heresy. Now I feel armed with proof that it is okay to experiment. :)

    I have been interested in wartime cookery for a while and just stumbled on your Project 52 earlier this week. I have been reading through all of your great posts and really enjoying them.


    1. Hi Kari,
      I know what you mean about feeling weird changing your mother-in-law's recipes (I have one of those myself that I changed anyway... haha!). It is definitely okay to experiment! I'm glad you've been enjoying my Project 52 posts. This project has been a lot of fun and I'm glad to see others benefitting from it as well. If you try any of the recipes be sure to leave a comment and let me know!


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