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Author Topic: World war II and Carrots?
Angry Snail
I Saw Three Shipments

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Hey everyone.
I just got off the phone to a friend of mine that is studying history at uni. She was told me this little ULish story.

During the second world war, the british pilots set out a campain to dupe the enemy into thinking that the reason they had such good pilots was cause they ate 2 pounds of carrots everyday. So, the enemy decided, well, if the brits are eating 2 pounds we'll eat 4. The subsequntly got sick and couldn't work at all.

I've done some basic research, and I can't find anything verifying this.. Have found stuff about how overdoes of carrots can't really hurt you and all, and about brit pilots turning orange due to eating lotsa carrots which kinda contradicts the story, I can't believe it is true, but knew that the snopesters would make sense of it all.

Would love to have something to show aforementioned friend..

Thanks guys.

Angry "Cool as a carrot [Cool] " Snail

snails only mate once a lifetime, you would be pissed off too.

Posts: 97 | From: Australia | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song

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Here ya go Angry Snail, a nice BBC reference from a couple of years ago. Apparently the carrot myth was circulated to draw attention away from the real cause of nocturnal success - RADAR.

This is where I come up with something right? Something really clever...

Posts: 6552 | From: UK | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales

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Here's a link to the Spartacus History site (highly recommended for its potted histories especially of social issues in Britain). Scroll down for a quote from the autobiography of Herbert Morrison; this story appears to reveal the origin of the `carrots help you see in the dark' myth.

`Typical of Ministry of Food ingenuity was the campaign when we had a glut of carrots at a time when other vegetables were scarce. Lord Woolton got rid of the carrots, minimized the effects of shortage of other vegetables, and helped people to tackle the miseries of the blackout at one and the same time by stressing that carrots improved night vision.

His master stroke was to spread the report that the night fighter and bomber aces of the R.A.F. were eating carrots to enable them to see in the dark. The new airborne radar, and for that matter the powers of the older ground station radar detection, were at the time top secret. Success in bringing down enemy bombers at night was increasing, thanks to these radar devices, and the public was naturally asking how it was done. Some at least were quite convinced that it was all done by carrots. Admittedly, in common with everyone else, the aircrews did have carrots and scientifically the carotene did help night vision, but perhaps Woolton's propagandist eulogies were a little optimistic in this regard. However, the glut of carrots was sold and eaten instead of wasted, and everyone was more or less happy about the scarcity of more palatable vegetables.'

Morrison and Woolton clearly believed that carotene helped night vision (I don't know whether it does) which was important during the blackout. But evidently the story about pilots eating carrots was an afterthought; the main point of the exercise was to get people eating more carrots.

Yours, &c


Posts: 190 | From: Australia | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator

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