Wednesday, October 14, 2009
My Contribution to the Butter-Margarine Wars
I don't remember any childhood chores with great affection or animosity, but I do remember one chore with curiosity. I remember always volunteering when my mother wanted someone to mix the color in the margarine. How strange does that sound?
I was given a plastic bag that held white margarine with a little button of dye. You broke the button and mixed the dye in by kneading the bag. I recall stretching this job out as long as I could, because when I was doing that, I couldn't wash dishes or sweep the floor.
When this memory arose recently, I wondered why the margarine had to be colored. So Mr. Google and I did a little search and found lots of info on the internet. (The image above is from a site named old-time.com/commercials/1940. I have not been able to create a link.) Basically, the dairy industry fought the sales of margarine as a substitute of butter, and one of the laws enacted forbade the sale of yellowy margarine. All margarine sold was white. If you wanted it to look more like butter, then you had to add the coloring.
Margarine has been around a long time; a Frenchman invented it in 1870 and when it arrived in America, the dairy industry wasted no time in declaring war. The dairy states and the federal government enacted many laws over the years that has lead to the many margarines on store shelves today.
So I take delight in my (limited) participation in the Butter-Margarine Wars. My arthritic fingers take delight in the idea that they don't have to handle those plastic bags anymore.