I don’t think my great-grandma ever quite approved of the butter alternative known as Oleomargarine. I think she thought it was bogus. Often, she called it Oleo for short in much the same tone as she’d tell a begging dog to go lay down. But, as no one else seemed to mind the spreadable mixture of beef fat and milk, she begrudgingly placed it on the table for us at every meal. I wonder if she knew the alternative dairy product idea almost didn’t make it out of the lab.
Two French chemists tried to develop and sell it, to no avail, before Napolean III came along in 1869, and even he had little success. When at last a Dutch company, experienced in marketing, realized that a substitute for butter should at least look like butter, a yellow dye was put into use, and there was no looking back until they tried to sell it in America.
Dairy Farmers of America were outraged and demanded that higher than average taxes be assessed on the product, and successfully lobbied for restrictions that banned the use of yellow dyes that made margarine look more appealing. By 1900, artificially-colored butter was contraband in 30 states. The only country with stronger restrictions was Canada, which banned the product altogether. Once wartime butter shortages forced a switch to Oleo, people decided it wasn’t so bad after all, and by 1950 most bans and restrictions were lifted in both countries, with the exception of Canada’s prohibition of yellow dye which was lifted in 2008.
Interestingly, my great-grandma was French-Canadian!
When I began this post without a specific topic to talk about, I figured it would be a sort of hodgepodge or Olio, the vintage word for mixture, or mixed-bag of say, topics for the letter O! Now that I’ve “gone on” a bit, I’ll leave it at two ;-)
Twenty years ago, 400 shards of pottery found in Sicily were painstakingly pieced together to form what turned out to be a jar containing remnants of 700-year-old Italian Olive Oil!
Optimism is not only good for physical and emotional well-being; it’s contagious. By all means, let’s share!
It’s been a beautiful day here in the desert. I hope it was where you are too!