Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Substitutes: more memories from living under martial law 1981

Inspired by beatroots Lwow correspondent, Opamp, take a look at the way Poles had to package things during a time of acute shortage.

Martial law lasted from December 13 to July 1983. That’s a longtime to live with nothing much in the shops – and what there was, was pretty crap (see previous post).

In those dark days of rationing cards - one kilo of sugar a month, two kilos of meat, one pair of shoes for six months, and, much more gravely, only half a litre of vodka a month – printers inks were also tragically in short supply.

This meant that when there was some chocolate in the shop then it tended to come in a packet that looked like this:

They made labels in any colour you want – as long as it’s grey…or pink!

This, as Opamp points out, was what was known as etykieta zastÄ™pcza, or ‘substitute label' – probably one of the finest contributions that the commies ever gave the world of design (on par, of course, with the brutality of much of socialist realism).

After you had gobbled down your plastic tasting ‘chocolate-like’ (Mum...why does the chocolate suddenly taste like shit?) then how about a dribble from your half a litre ration of vodka?

But the finest vodka it most defiantly was not. You have heard of ‘table wine’ before, so how about a little ‘table vodka’ complete with ‘label substitute’?

Na Zdrowia!

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