It’s National Banana Day.

Whether or not you’re a fan, most of us would prefer not to lose them.

That’s especially true for people in the UK who actually had to go without bananas, and went to some pretty remarkable lengths to simulate having them.

Atlas Obscura unpeeled an oral history project from the BBC in which people remembered some of the food-related challenges for those on the British home front during World War II.

Wartime meant rations, and that was especially true for items like bananas, which had to be imported using refrigerated ships.

The military couldn’t spare any seagoing vessel, so bananas were completely off limits.

During the war, they really could say yes, we have no bananas.

Now, other foods were off limits during the war, too, but how many of them had multiple songs written in their honor, like the Harry Roy classic “When Can I Have A Banana Again?”

But it wasn’t just a disappointment that certain staple foods were unavailable.

The government was concerned people wouldn’t get enough nutrition.

So they started giving people ideas for how to use the foods they still have at their disposal, so that they could still have a decent meal.

One of these substitute recipes was called mock bananas, and the main ingredient was the closest relative of an actual banana that people could have at the time… parsnips.

One mock banana recipe called for peeling, chopping and boiling the parsnips.

Then, the home chef would drain all the water out and mash up the parsnips with a bit of sugar and a kind of artificial banana flavoring.

The mash could be spread on toast, or you could just eat it right out of the bowl.

And given the circumstances… people got it down.

Some of them even liked it!

But anyone who knew what an actual banana tasted like knew the difference between the real deal and the parsnip-based alternative.

Fortunately the war ended, and real bananas came back to the UK.

Kids who had literally dreamed about eating bananas during the toughest days of WWII saw those dreams come true.

And parsnips went back to being parsnips.

Today in 1988, the Oklahoma State House approved a resolution describing the official state meal.

This made-in–Oklahoma extravaganza included barbecued pork, chicken-fried steak, sausage and gravy, corn, corn bread, grits, biscuits, fried okra, black-eyed peas, squash, strawberries and pecan pie.

2700 calories in all.

Did they have an official size plate to hold all of that food?

To Cope With a Wartime Banana Ban, British Home Cooks Made ‘Mock Bananas’ (Atlas Obscura)

Senator wants state meal off the table (Tulsa World)

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Photo by Bruno Girin via Flickr/Creative Commons