Office of Price Administration begins to ration automobile tires - Dec 27, 1941 -

On this day in 1941, the federal Office of Price Administration initiates its first rationing program in support of the American effort in World War II: It mandates that from that day on, no driver will be permitted to own more than five automobile tires. President Roosevelt established the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply in April 1941 to “stabilize prices and rents and prevent unwarranted increases in them; to prevent profiteering, hoarding and speculation; to assure that defense appropriations were not dissipated by excessive prices; to protect those with fixed incomes from undue impairment of their living standards; to assist in securing adequate production; and to prevent a post-emergency collapse of values.” The OPA (its name was streamlined in August 1941) was responsible for two types of rationing programs. The first limited the purchase of certain commodities (tires, cars, metal typewriters, bicycles, stoves and rubber shoes) to people who had demonstrated an especial need for them. The second limited the quantity of things–like butter, coffee, sugar, cooking fat, gasoline and non-rubber shoes–which every citizen was allowed to buy. (As a result, of course, the black market flourished–studies estimated that 25 percent of all purchases during the war were illegal.)