Today in My History

2000:  I'll Do It Tomorrow
2001:  Oh, to be in England
2002:  Tacky Funny Crap
2003:  Rolling Thunder
2004:  What do you say to a Living Legend?
2005:  Top Dog
2006:  A Strange Alliance
2007: A Nice Place to Be From
2008:  Are You Barking at Me?
2009:  Move Over, Herman
2010:  Versatile Duct tape
2011:  Somebody Needs Better PR
2012: Somai
2013: Sunday Stealing

2014: If I were a Rich (Wo)man
2015: All that Jazz--The French Quarter
2016: Never Too Old to Learn.
2017: I See Dead People
2018: Saturday 9
2019: Sunday Stealing
2020: Real Social Isolation

Theater Reviews
Updated 3/14/21

Books Read in 2021
 Updated 1/13
Murder on the Orpheum Circuit
by Jim Brochu

Personal Home Page

My family

Bev's 65 x 365

Photo Journal, April 2021

Books Read in 2021
Books Read in 2020

Books Read in 2019
Books Read in 2018

Books Read in 2017
Books Read in 2016
Books Read in 2015
Books Read in 2014
Books Read in 2013

Books Read in 2012
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010

Cast (updated 7/16)

(you know how to fix it)

Some Background Links:
The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
The story of Delicate Pooh
The story of the Piñata Group
Pumpkin pies
Who IS this Gilbert person anyway?

mail to Walt / mail to Bev  


5 May 2021

I love Google.  I don't know why more people don't take advantage of it.  So often I have people tell me that they don't know anything about such-and-such and in minutes I have Googled it and am able to tell them about it.  My early dementia would be more apparent without Google.  I forget so much stuff, but all I have to do is Google something and it all comes back (the other day I couldn't remember the name of Mt. Rushmore, for example).

Last night Ned, Walt and I were discussing butter and how much Ned loves it and how I made him eat margarine during his childhood because it was supposedly more healthy.  I was talking about how over my lifetime I have never really changed things because some scientist told me that this, that, or the other things was more healthy because I have seen that whatever is supposed to be bad for you, in about 5 or so years suddenly is now good for you.

After being told for many years about how it's bad to drink too much coffee with caffeine, for example, the other day I read that if you drink a cup of caffeinated coffee a day, you'll live longer.  I never went the non-caffeine route, so I didn't change, but the warnings changed.

Margarine usually tops butter when it comes to heart health. Margarine is made from vegetable oils, so it contains unsaturated "good" fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These types of fats help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol when substituted for saturated fat.

But recently I read that they have decided that butter is actually better for you than margarine. Although margarine may contain some heart-friendly nutrients, it often contains trans fat, which has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic health issues.

In the middle of this discussion I mentioned that I remember as a child massaging color into a block of white margarine to color it yellow.  Ned couldn't believe it and couldn't understand why they didn't color the substance yellow to begin with before selling it.  So naturally I Googled it and found a fascinating story of margarine.  Also pictures of the margarine I used to massage to make yellow.

Margarine’s history began with French emperor Napoleon III, a French chemist, and some sheep’s stomachs and went on to include heated courtroom debates, our first federal laws regulating food, and outlaws smuggling faux butter across state lines.


Margarine was actually invented in 1869 as part of a contest sponsored by Napoleon III.  Butter didn't keep well and was expensive and Napoleon wanted a cheap butter substitute to feed his troops.

Hippolyte Mege-Mouries was able to mix rendered beef tallow and a small amount of water and milk to form his butter substitute. He called the mixture 'oleomargarine' because he thought it contained oleaic and margaric acids. It was later determined to have neither, but instead contained stearic and palmitic acids. However, the name 'oleomargarine' was already in place and was later shortened to just 'margarine'.

Mege-Mouries' original mixture was stable, much cheaper than butter, tasted nearly as good as butter and even had a pale yellow color. The chemist joined up with a Dutch company, who helped the manufacturing process and also made the product even cheaper by using fats derived from plant oils, especially olive oil. This new process resulted in a white product, so they added yellow dye to make it look more like butter and started creating a market for it. By the mid-1870s it was already being widely produced in the United States.

But the butter people weren't happy with the new product and so in  the 1887 the Margarine Act was passed in Ireland.  This paragraph is particularly interesting:

Every package, whether open or closed, and containing margarine, shall be branded or durably marked “Margarine” on the top, bottom, and sides, in printed capital letters, not less than three-quarters of an inch square; and if such margarine be exposed for sale, by retail, there shall be attached to each parcel thereof so exposed, and in such manner as to be clearly visible to the purchaser, a label marked in printed capital letters not less than one and a half inches square, “Margarine”; and every person selling margarine by retail, save in a package duly branded or durably marked as aforesaid, shall in every case deliver the same to the purchaser in . . . . . a paper wrapper, on which shall be printed in capital letters, . . . . . . “Margarine.”

This country, placed a heavy tax on margarine and required manufacturers to have a license and wholesalers and sellers to keep annual permits. Some states, like Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio, banned the sale of margarine altogether, claiming margarine production harmed dairy farmers and wasn't wholesome like butter. Selling or using margarine in some places even resulted in fines or serving prison time.  (dairy farmers apparently had as active lobbyists as gun manufacturers!)

By 1902, 32 states required margarine to be colored differently than butter - dyed pink, red, brown or black - so as not to compete. These laws were eventually overturned by the Supreme Court. However, Wisconsin, a state with a big dairy industry, allowed this 'pink law' to continue until 1967.

So margarine was not permitted, by the government, to be colored to look like butter, but apparently they could add a little "ez color pack" that people who bought the product could color it yellow in the privacy of their own home!

Laws were particularly strict in Wisconsin and people would go to neighboring states to buy margarine because it was illegal in Wisconsin until 1967.  In 1953, the state's agriculture chief admitted that there was "widespread violation" of state law that required consumers to buy a $1 license before bringing colored margarine back into Wisconsin, not to mention an extra 6-cents-a-pound tax.  Sheriff Lyman B. Clark was caught up in a scandal when he was accused of "smuggling" illegal colored oleomargarine into the Outagamie County Jail to feed to prisoners. Clark, who denied any intentional wrongdoing, was later fined $50. (He didn't seek re-election.)

A spokesman for the American Soybean Association, which opposed the yellow margarine ban, called the state's tax "a yellow curtain." "It is an open secret that Wisconsin citizens travel across state lines into Illinois and Iowa to purchase yellow margarine," he said. " The state has inspectors at the border to detect violators. This certainly smacks of police state methods."

A Democratic state representative from Racine claimed that 64,000 pounds of oleo — 32 tons — was bootlegged into Wisconsin each week because of the state's ban on yellow margarine and high oleo taxes.  The question was asked "Why did God Almighty manufacture butter? To build good bodies for the future of this nation. … This oleo isn't the true stuff, don't kid yourself."

One last remnant of Wisconsin's anti-oleo campaign is still on the books: Restaurants and public institutions are barred from serving margarine as a substitute for table butter unless a diner asks for it or both butter and margarine are offered. If you're caught and convicted, the maximum penalty is a $500 fine and three months in jail for a first offense — and up to a year for each offense after that.

Who had any clue that something as seemingly innocent as margarine could cause such problems.



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