Modern Food Delivery Was Forged In Battle.

And Helped Beat The Nazis.

Matt J Weber 🦢
5 min readJun 29, 2020

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150 hot meals an hour. 20 million meals nationwide. Delivered while navigating an active war zone. They called it a mobile canteen — belying its military status. It looks like any delivery truck you’ve ever seen.

But this was the first of its kind. The primordial pizza delivery. Amazon Prime prime. The big bang of modern culinary convenience, born of necessity, forged in battle

This was the first food delivery.

Of course, food has been delivered since ancient times — whether it be by horseback or on foot. But the modern idea of a coordinated system that allows a hot meal to be delivered via a midsize sedan to a specific address in as little time as possible has only been in the works for 80 years now.

This happened between 1940 and 1941. The world had once again engulfed itself in a war. The largest, most destructive conflict in all of human history by most measures. Despite the huge loss of life, we will have stumbled upon some pretty keen ideas along the way. Only some of them will give us the option of nuking ourselves into oblivion. Others will bestow upon us the indisputable miracle of pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less.

By this time, much of Western Europe had already fallen to the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Supply lines cut off and food rationed, Great Britain was pretty much alone. To make matters worse, the Luftwaffe were lobbing bombs at their capital.

The British Home Office had to figure out a way to feed its population while sustaining near constant aerial bombardment. Their answer was mass motorized food delivery.

The Ministry of Food took what little rations it had and manufactured it into hot meals on an industrial scale. Restaurants were set up across the country, serving meals three times a day every day. The UK government basically started its own fast food franchises.

But not everybody could hop on the train and get a bite to eat — especially if the station was being used as an air raid shelter. That food needed to be brought to where the people were, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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