Wonder Wednesdays: Oleomargarine Becomes Tickled Pink

Last time, we learned what oleomargarine is and how it’s made, and who made it. Today, we’ll explore the journey of acceptance in America. Because apparently, the American dairy farmers didn’t like having competition; they wanted to keep their monopoly. They wanted to stick it to the oleomargarine makers and went down a slippery slope to do it. (Sorry – you know that butter and margarine puns are going to happen. ๐Ÿ˜„)

In the 1870’s, oleomargarine came to the United States. A decade later, the dairy industry succeeded in helping make the Margarine Act, forcing margarine makers to get permits and such to make it and taxed it by two cents a pound, and later, ten cents a pound. (And if you were wondering, here is what it would be like if you account for inflation: $0.10 in 1880 โ†’ $2.34 in 2018)

Six states decided to simply ban margarine altogether. Not surprisingly, one of them was Wisconson, the dairy state, where senatorย Joseph Quarles argued that butter should come from the life-giving milk, not the fat of the dead cow.

Some sources mentioned having political cartoons for this agenda, so I did a bit of research and found one:

To be fair, I didn’t really need much convincing – learning how it’s made (it is usually made out of hydrogenated vegetable oil instead of beef fat nowadays but still) is enough to make me choose butter. Surely arsenic didn’t go in it, that’s poison. Hopefully, it was lying about that. Although food coloring can come from disgusting sources. Anyway…

What followed is that dairy farmers wanted to stick it to the margarine producers and accused margarine makers of trying to mislead people by selling it as butter. Margarine is white after it is first made, and then dyed to look more like butter. So legislation was passed that margarine had to tint their product to a color other than yellow.ย  (Even though corn-fed cows produced white butter which was then dyed yellow.ย It’s like the pot calling the kettle black, except, the butter was calling the margarine yellow…ย ๐Ÿ˜†)

Several states even forced margarine makers to dye it a certain color – pink. These laws were later overturned. (Wisconsin was the last to do so in 1967.)

Thanks to the Great Depression and the butter shortage of World War Two, margarine slipped ahead of butter in popularity, and was no longer colored pink, but was tickled pink. However, around 2004, butter started to become more popular than margarine again, so I’m sure it’s now feeling blue.

And what’s fun is, Parkay actually made pink margarine as recently as 2002 – and blue margarine too!

How weird is that? And this concludes this edition of Wonder Wednesday. ๐Ÿ™‚

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24 thoughts on “Wonder Wednesdays: Oleomargarine Becomes Tickled Pink

  1. I had a teacher who wanted to teach a lesson about how lies could resemble the truth. Unfortunately for him, he chose the only two students, myself and a guy, in the room who preferred butter and could actually tell the difference. Completely ruined his lesson. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The political cartoon was great – the boot and the animal (dog?), skidding into the vat of would-be margarine. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Grateful to be vegan for sure, but I certainly ate my fair share of margarine when I was much younger. Itโ€™s terrifying to think of whatโ€™s actually in there!

    Liked by 1 person

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