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Wednesday, 23 March 2016


Margarine was created in 1869 by the French Province chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès. He invented it in response to a commission by the Emperor Louis Napoleon III for the production of a cooking fat for the French navy that would be cheap and would keep well. To formulate his entry, Mège-Mouriès used a fatty acid component margaric acid, hence its name – margarine. He added skimmed milk and water and a strip of udder to mimic the way butter fat forms in a calf's udder.

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Margaric acid was isolated by the Frenchman Michael Chevreul in 1813 and named because of the lustrous pearly drops that reminded him of the Greek word for pearl, "margarites".

Newspaper ad for the oleomargarine product, 1919

Children growing up during the Second World War were prone to catching rickets.Margarine was fortified with vitamin D during this period to help prevent the disease.

During the famous Wisconsin senatorial taste test of 1955, blindfolded senators were challenged to tell the difference between butter and margarine. None of them were fooled–except for the anti-margarine Senator Gordon Roselip who incorrectly identified margarine as butter. His wife later confessed that worried about her husband’s heart, she had for years been sneakily substituting yellow margarine for butter at the Senator’s dinner table.

Colloquially in the US, the term margarine is used to describe "non-dairy spreads" like Country Crock with varying amounts of fat content.

The J.H. Filbert company, based in Baltimore, Maryland, developed the vegetable oil and cream spread I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! It was introduced into the United States in 1981 and in the United Kingdom and Canada ten years later.

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Flora was originally named after the wife of one of Unilever's marketing directors, "Louis Flora Catlow". She died on June 24, 2009.

The first Benecol product was a spread that was brought to the market in Finland in 1995.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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