By: Bears Butt

Have you ever thought about margarine?  I remember growing up in the early 1950’s we could not afford butter, even with our own cows, because the cream yielded some good money from the dairy check.  So, mom would buy what we called “Oleo”.  It never really looked like butter as it was more whitish than yellowish like butter is.  But we used oleo as anyone would use butter.  It tasted ok and when you are hungry usually anything tastes just fine.

My research on margarine showed me it was actually first discovered by some scientist in Europe in the early 1800’s.  What he was looking for is unknown, but he found that animal fat actually broke down into little white balls when you break it up enough.  Of course scientists like to use their microscopes alot and the one who could break things down into the smallest of particles usually got the credit for finding neat stuff.  This guy did and so they coined it some sort of “acid”.

We all know that once you have an acid, you can usually combine it with other stuff and it will turn into something entirely different than the two parts.  You have heard that the results of the  sum of the two parts is not equal to the two parts by themselves?  Well so be it with margarine.  Add vegetable oil to the animal fat acid and vuella,  Oleomargarine.

Over more than 100 years it was a known fact that this stuff could be used to replace butter, but the “better butter board”, as I call them lobbiests, did not want to see this “junk” take over from their dairy producing folks and cause an upset imbalance of funds being taken from them.  And so laws were enacted and strictly enforced against the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine.  And not only in the U.S. was this done.  All over the world.  And if a manufacturer could actually make quantities of it and offer it for sale, they were taxed heavily and were told they could not put yellow coloring in it!  Actually they were told to put red coloring in it in hopes to make it less appealing to the consumers eyes as a replacement for good old yellow colored butter.

As time marched on, we saw two world wars and a great depression here in the U.S. and from those came limited supplies of butter and the demand for oleomargarine became more and more a part of American ways of lives.  Suddenly the “Better Butter Board” was faced head on by the “Oleomargarine One for All, All for One Board” and so the battle went but in the end, the Oleo Board won some big battles, repealing laws and getting some of their own ways.

There are still a lot of laws prohibiting oleomargarine from doing some of the things their board would like to see done, but at least we now have an open enterprise and can choose between the use of butter or margarine.  Ain’t that nice?

As with most things, there comes change and the days of oleomargarine have seen a biggie come along.  Someone in England tried an experiment one day and found that by mixing real dairy cream with vegetable oil and blending it over and over and then tossing in some yellowish color they could make a pretty good substitute for butter.  In taste tests all around, they challenged folks just like you to tell them which piece of toast was spread with butter.  And the result was a product coined with the slogan “I can’t believe it’s not butter”!

So, there you have the nutshell version of the history of margarine.  Pass the oleo please!

Bears Butt

July 12, 2012

Written on July 12th, 2012 , Uncategorized

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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.