History of Soy Oil Margarine - Part 2

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s

©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, California

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The Early Years (1871-1899) . It will be recalled that Mege-Mouries had been issued his original margarine patent in France in 1868. On 30 December 1873 he applied for a US patent (No. 146,012 ref??) which he was granted on 12 May 1874. Even before that time, however, news of Mege-Mouries's invention had spurred experiments at creating butter substitutes in America. The first patent for such a process was issued on 3 January 1871, and one is reported to have been used commercially in 1873 (Riepma 1970).

The rights to the Mege-Mouries patent were purchased by the United States Dairy Co. in Manhattan, New York, and sometime between 1874 and 1876 they began to manufacture margarine, which they called "artificial butter." The firm's chemist, Henry C. Mott, Jr. made two important improvements on the Mege-Mouries process. First he achieved a more pronounced butter-like flavor by permitting the milk to sour naturally before incorporating it with the fat. Second he developed a finer-grained product by quick cooling of the fat via contact with a refrigerated metal chill roll inside a closed chiller. These improvements made their world commercial premier in the US by 1877 (Snodgrass 1930). In the following years numerous patents were taken out in the US aimed at improving the original Mege-Mouries process. Many suggested the use of lard or vegetable oils instead of the basic ingredient, oleo oil.

By 1881 the US Dairy Co. had a subsidiary, the Commercial Manufacturing Company, running at full capacity in a "large barn of a plant" with smoking chimneys at the west end of 48th street. Its output may have been several million lb a year. An unknown writer praised "this great discovery . . . The markets of this city are full of oleomargarine . . . it commands a high price from its intrinsic merits . . . and has driven rancid butter from the market. The new oleomargarine being without buttermilk, has keeping qualities that recommend it." That year there were 15 margarine plants in operation in America, some perhaps affiliated with Commercial. The young industry in 1880 enjoyed an estimated capitalization of $1.7 million and a production value of nearly $7 million (Riepma 1970).

In 1883, led by Armour and Company, a number of America's large meat packing companies began to make margarine. Swift & Co. soon followed, helping to place the fledgling industry on a firmer economic footing with bright prospects for growth. The meat packers used their best lard and tallow in their margarines. Before this time there had been little demand for edible tallow. By 1886 the number of margarine plants had more than doubled to 34, and the next year total US margarine production was estimated at 31 million lb (14,000 tonnes), just equal to that of West Germany, but only about half that of the Netherlands (Fig. ??). Margarine was catching on so fast that, although in the 1880s it represented only 2-3% of butter production, the dairy industry made an all-out effort to squelch its upstart competitor, just as the European dairy industry was doing at about the same time.

As in Europe the invention of margarine made it possible to produce a product fairly similar to butter that, during the 1880s, sold for about two-thirds the price of butter. (It takes 21.2 lb of milk to make 1 lb of butter.) Margarine filled a genuine need for a low-cost table spread, which came to be widely used in America on bread and potatoes. Yet, as in Europe during the 1880s, there was some evidence of fraud in margarine sale. Since both margarine and butter were initially sold in wooden tubs, from which they were ladled by the shopkeeper, some unscrupulous shopkeepers were alleged to have mixed margarine with butter and sold the mixture as butter, or even sold margarine as butter. More serious, dairy farmers feared, as they watched margarine sales climb, that the new product might eventually cut deeply into their butter sales. Attitudes against margarine among dairy farmers crystallized in 1873, when America underwent its first great agricultural depression. For thousands of farmers, especially in the northeastern New England states, butter, made on their farms, was the main product that kept them from bankruptcy. Margarine came to be seen as an industrial product of "big business," then widely accused of monopolistic practices. A veritable crusade against margarine began which eventually led to the world's most severe antimargarine laws. The main beneficiaries of this policy were small dairy farmers. The groups hurt most by the policy of enmity were the margarine industry and consumers, especially the lower income groups that could not afford butter. As Snodgrass noted in 1930: "The interests of the consumer have not been seriously considered at any time in this entire struggle."

Dairy organizations became militant and a mere 4 years after its invention, margarine entered its first legislative battles in the US. In 1884 New York passed the world's first antimargarine laws, several years before any such laws were passed in Europe. In 1886 New Jersey and New York prohibited the manufacture and sale of yellow colored margarine; it is ordinarily white. By that year, seven states had laws banning the sale of margarine and nine others had regulatory laws. Also in 1886 the President of the American Agricultural and Dairy Association demanded the "total extermination of imitation butter." Mark Twain chose margarine as a symbol of the artificiality he saw increasing in the world.

The margarine industry fought back, and in 1885 a New York court voided the margarine ban in that state. The dairy industry then sought federal intervention and, after a heated battle, congress passed the Margarine Act of 1886. A tax of 2 cents a lb was imposed and licenses were mandated, costing $600 for manufacturers, $480 for wholesalers, and $48 for retailers. The law also decreed that the product must be clearly labeled "oleomargarine."

The margarine industry appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in 1888 that no state could prohibit the sale of margarine. In 1894 the Court upheld state laws banning the sale of yellow colored margarine and in 1896 it upheld the licenses and taxes of the 1886 Act. Protectionists in states that had banned the sale of margarine altogether struck back with new ingenuity. Soon six states had passed laws ordering that the product must be colored pink! (In fact, as recently as 1967, a North Dakota legislator demanded that margarine be colored pink or green.) The coloring laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in 1898.

These many restrictive measures, however, did not stop the growth of margarine sales. In fact, during the period from 1887, right after the first federal Margarine Act was passed until the end of the century (1899), margarine production more than tripled, from 31 to 197 million lb (14,000-48,500 tonnes), a compound growth rate of almost 11% a year, the highest growth rate margarine ever achieved (Fig. ??).

Part of the reason for the success was vigorous promotion and marketing efforts. During the 1890s brand-name marketing began. Then one of the largest margarine makers, and the largest outside the meat packing industry, introduced its Good Luck brand, which soon became famous. Swift promoted All Sweet. Extensive advertising was done. Another major innovation was in packaging. In the late 1890s, while most butter was still being sold in bulk, margarine was introduced in small, convenient and attractive consumer-sized packages, concurrently with the promotion of brand names. Jelke was the first to start using vegetable parchment wrappers in the 1890s, then the first to add the folding printed carton in 1907 or 1908. Both innovations were soon widely imitated. By 1920 some 90% of America's margarine was sold in 1-lb packages and by 1926 bulk margarine had virtually disappeared.

In 1904 Lewkowitsch described the margarine ingredients used in the US in 1899; they were quite different from those used in Europe at that time. High grade US margarine contained 36% neutral lard, 27% butter (but no milk), 28% oleo oil, 9% salt, and 0.5% coloring matter. Neutral lard and butter were not widely used in European margarines. The medium grade US margarine used milk instead of butter, and the inexpensive grade used cottonseed oil in addition to oleo oil and neutral lard. Total US margarine ingredients for all grades consisted of 34% neutral lard, 27% oleo oil??, 16% milk, 10% cottonseed oil, 7% salt, 4% cream, and 2% butter. Note the small total use of butter, implying small sales of high-grade margarine.

1900-1919. Hydrogenation and World War I. Watching the dramatic growth of margarine sales during the late 1800s, the US dairy industry concluded that further restrictions were necessary. (It is surprising that the history of margarine in the US has never been staged as a comedy!) Vigorous lobbying was initiated and in 1902 (at which time 32 states had laws banning the sale of yellow margarine), the 1886 federal Margarine Act was amended, in the face of violent opposition, to increase the federal tax on yellow colored margarine to about 10 cents a lb, which was roughly half the margarine retail price at that time. This eliminated the price advantage that colored margarine had over butter and the inducement to fraudulently mix margarine with butter. The tax on uncolored margarine was reduced to a nominal 1/4 cent per lb and the annual licensing fee for retailers selling uncolored margarine was also substantially reduced.

These regulations hurt margarine sales severely; they dived from a high of 126 million lb (57,153 tonnes) in 1901 to 48 million lb (21,772 tonnes) in 1903. Not until 1910 did margarine sales reach their 1901 level. Faced with the choice between white margarine and butter or between expensive yellow colored margarine and butter, most consumers now chose butter--or nothing. Fighting for its very survival, the margarine industry introduced new marketing devices. In 1902 margarine makers started enclosing small tubes or bags containing yellow coloring matter (made from anatto, the pulp from the seed of a small tropical tree, Bixas orellana ) in each package of margarine to enable consumers to color the margarine themselves. In addition, and increasingly during the next few decades, manufacturers used unbleached peanut and soy oil to impart a natural yellow color to their finished products. In both these ways they legally sidestepped the high taxes on artificially colored margarine. Moreover, the color issue was not as important then as it would be now because prior to the 1940s margarine was most widely used in the kitchen, rarely being placed on the dining table.

Starting in about 1911 the tide began to turn in margarine's favor. Over the years, its best friends and the most outspoken opponents of the antimargarine laws had been southern and western congressmen, who foresaw their ruinous effects on the sale of a product which provided a major market for cottonseed oil and animal fats from their states. They urged that the fraudulent sales of margarine as butter could be best dealt with by more detailed packaging and labeling regulations. By 1911 the press rang with denunciations of the unfairness of the antimargarine laws to consumers and farm producers. With increasing production, the price of margarine gradually fell. Between 1900 and 1913 it generally sold for about 50-65% the price of butter, a key factor generating consumer interest.

The first reported use of soy oil in margarine in the United States was in 1912, when 321 tonnes (708,000 lb) were used. In 5 years, by 1917, this amount had increased almost 10-fold, to 3,000 tonnes (6,614,000 lb), yet this was only 2.5% of all oils and fats used in margarine that year and much less than oleo oil (38% of total), cottonseed oil (25%), neutral lard (17%), and peanut oil (4%). After 1918 use of soy oil in margarine fell sharply as imports dropped and more widely preferred oils became more available. Except for the Depression year of 1930, soy oil did not start to be widely used in margarine again until 1935.

The invention of hydrogenation of oils by Normann in 1903 and the introduction of the process to the US by Procter & Gamble in 1909 (as described under Hydrogenation, above), proved to be a major turning point in the history of margarine, although the immense significance of the hydrogenation to the margarine making process was slow in being realized. In 1915 hydrogenation was first used in margarine production. (Note that the first soy oil used in margarine was not hydrogenated; it was added in part for its yellow color.) Soon an increasing proportion of vegetable oils, especially cottonseed oil in the early days, was being used in place of animal fats. As with shortening, hydrogenation liberated margarine from its dependence on the meat packing industries as a supplier of raw materials. One of the first famous brands of margarine to be made using hydrogenated oil was Nucoa, introduced in 1917 by a company later merged into Best Foods. Using hardened coconut oil as its basic ingredient, it represented a major advance in product quality. It quickly became the top selling American margarine and kept this position into the 1940s.

World War I helped the expansion of margarine considerably. Production jumped from 64,400 tonnes (141 million lb) in 1914 to 167,377 tonnes (369 million lb) in 1919, a 160% increase in only 5 years. The shortage of fats and butter, the steep overall rise in living costs, and the favorable press, all helped the cause. During these 5 years per capita disappearance grew from 1.4 to 3.4 lb a year, while per capita butter consumption plunged (Fig. ??). The number of margarine factories grew from 30 in 1914 to 73 in 1920 ( American Food Journal 1922).

1920-1939. Two Slow Decades . In 1920, with production at a major peak, America's 78 margarine plants jointed to form a trade association, the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers, to protect and further their interests. Their move was timely and wise, for between 1920 and 1922 US margarine production fell a whopping 50%, as the country entered a postwar recession. Thereafter, however, production grew slowly but steadily until 1930, as the price of margarine gradually declined to less than half that of butter.

America's third period of antimargarine legislation began in 1930; the first was 1886-1902, the second was 1902-1930, and the third was 1930-1950. It was now the depths of the Great Depression and farm prices had plummeted. Interestingly the villain this time was dark palm and soy oils, which the federal government had decided in late 1930 could be used as a natural coloring ingredient without requiring the margarine to be taxed. Angry rural congressmen secured a new amendment to the 1902 law that placed a 10-cent tax on naturally as well as artificially colored margarine. Dairymen benefited somewhat from the new legislation but, again, at the expense of the poor. By 1936 some 27 states prohibited colored margarine, 24 imposed some kind of consumer tax, and 26 required licenses or had other restrictions. Legislatively, it was margarine's darkest hour.

Already by this time the American Soybean Association (ASA) and its members, America's soybean farmers had begun to take sides in the margarine issue. During the 1920s the use of vegetable oils, and especially of imported and deodorized coconut continued the climb begun in 1914. By 1920 coconut oil accounted for 45% of all margarine oils and fats; by 1929 the figure had risen to 60%. The use of relatively small amounts of harder beef fats with coconut oil allowed it to be made into a quality margarine without hydrogenation. During the postwar recessionary years of the 1920s, as farm prices fell, dairy interests poured out hostile publicity against "oleo." They pictured the use of cheap, imported coconut oil as the "coconut cow," which threatened every American farmer. Cottonseed and soybean farmers, however, saw the matter differently. With growing strength during the early 1930s, they too joined the "Battle of the Coconut Cow," opposing the import of low-cost coconut oil, arguing that domestic oils should be used instead, to help a depressed farm economy (Strayer 1980). Thus oilseed farmers, backed by margarine industry, worked with dairy farmers against imported coconut oil but against dairy farmers in efforts to promote margarine. In the late 1930s a tariff of 3 cents a lb was levied against imported coconut oil. Soy oil moved quickly to take its place. The ASA also worked in 14 states to change state antimargarine laws.

As explained in Chapter 47, it was in the mid-1930s that domestically produced soy oil first became widely available in America. During this period new techniques of refining and hydrogenation had made soy oil more acceptable to the American palate, yet cottonseed oil was still preferred. In 1930 the A.E. Staley Mfg. Co. sold the first tank car of domestic soy oil to a margarine manufacturer and that year the total output of soy oil (albeit only 1,020 tonnes) went into soy oil. Apparently the product was not too well received, for by 1932 only 1.3 tonnes of soy oil were used in margarine. Thereafter, however, usage of soy oil in margarine skyrocketed, jumping to 771 tonnes in 1935, 6,441 tonnes in 1936, and 32,115 tonnes by 1939. In the latter year soy oil, second only to cottonseed oil, accounted for 29.2% of all oils and fats used in margarine (Alderks 1945). During this period of soy oil's growth hydrogenation first came to be used extensively in US margarine production.

It is interesting to note that in 1936-38, per capita margarine consumption in the US was about 3.1 lb a year. This was far lower than all northern European countries. The figure was 47.4 lb in Denmark, 41.2 lb in Norway, and 20.5 lb in Sweden (Fig. ??).

During the 1930s America's first two major books were written about margarine: Snodgrass' Margarine as a Butter Substitute (1930) was published by Stanford University Press and Pabst's Butter and Oleomargarine: An Analysis of Competing Commodities was published in 1938 by Columbia University Press. These indicated growing respectability.

1940-1959. Wartime Advances and Regulatory Breakthroughs. The period during World War II proved to be extremely favorable for margarine. The shortages of fats and rationing of butter led many consumers to try margarine. Many colored it themselves at home to avoid the tax. Production skyrocketed from 145,000 tonnes in 1940 to 278,500 tonnes in both 1943 and 1945. By the latter year the US government had purchased more than 27,000 tonnes of margarine for use in its overseas Lend-Lease programs. Even after the war production continued to rise, reaching 391,000 tonnes in 1949. In about 1948 the US passed West Germany to become the world's leading nation in total margarine production, although US per capita consumption was still low.

During the war, the use of soy oil in margarine increased dramatically, replacing much of the coconut oil cut off by the war and fueling the additional growth in margarine production. In the first 2 years of the war, soy oil use in margarine jumped 160%, from 34,292 tonnes in 1941 (accounting for 25% of all oils and fats in margarine) to 89,812 tonnes in 1943 (accounting for 40% of the total) (Fig. ??). Yet still only 17% of all soy oil was used in margarine; the lion's share was used in shortening (50%) and about 19% was used in salad and cooking oils.

World War II caused nutrition to be emphasized as a matter of public policy in America. The shortage of butter and rapid increase in margarine use made it important to determine whether or not margarine was nutritionally equivalent to butter. The promulgation on 15 June 1941 of a definition and standard of identity for margarine under the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, was a turning point in both the legal struggle and in the efforts to establish the nutritional equivalence of the two foods. The federal standard not only gave margarine its own official identity and respectability, it did much to remove the "imitation butter" stigma. The debate over the nutritional merits of margarine versus butter had been going on since the late 1800s. The first allegation, made by dairy interests, was that the margarine was less digestible than butter. In the US tests done by USDA Office of Home Economics (completed in 1917 but published in the early 1920s by Deuel and Holmes 1922?) showed that margarine and butter were equally (about 97%) digestible. (For details, see Hydrogenation, above.) A second argument for the superiority of butter was advanced in 1913, when it was found that butter was a good source of vitamin A, which was soon shown to be essential for growth and for life. Yellow, unbleached vegetable oils were a fairly good source of beta-carotene or natural provitamin A, but after 1930 their use in margarine caused it to be heavily taxed. Following the lead of Lever Brothers in England in 1927, many US margarine makers began to fortify their margarine with vitamin A during the 1930s, and some also added vitamin D. The federal departments of agriculture and labor began to recommend fortified margarines in 1939 and the 1941 federal Standard of Identity permitted (but did not require) fortification with vitamins A and D. By 1940 the nutritional equivalency of vitamin-fortified margarine and butter had been established, and was confirmed in special reports by the Council on Foods and Nutrition of the American Medical Association (1942, ref??) and by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council (1943, ref??). In 1946 Deuel wrote a good review of "The Butter-Margarine Controversy," again concluding that the two foods were nutritionally equivalent. From the 1940s on, virtually all margarine was fortified with vitamin A (today 15,000 USP units per lb are required by law) and some with vitamin D (2,000 USP units per lb). Margarine gained a slight advantage in that its content of vitamin A was known and constant, whereas that of butter varied widely among varieties and from season to season. Starting in the 1950s as the probable link between cholesterol, saturated fats, and coronary heart disease came to be better known, margarine was able to boast that it contained no cholesterol (versus 1,135 mg per lb for butter) and, in most cases, no animal fats. Its further advantages of being a rich source of linoleic acid (which butter is largely devoid of) and of polyunsaturated fatty acids were not widely publicized until after 1960.

During the 1930s the first all-vegetable-oil margarines were developed. They were composed initially of cottonseed oil and later of blends of cottonseed and soy oils. The first all-soy, all-vegetable margarine, containing no products of animal origin, was introduced in 1942 by Butler Food Products at Cedar Lake Michigan. Sold as Soy Butter, its main ingredients were a blend of liquid and hydrogenated soy oils, soymilk used in place of dairy milk, and perhaps soy lecithin (plus salt, carotene, vitamin A, and butter flavor). Its history is described in Chapter 66.7. Conflicting government regulations drove the company out of business in 1946. In 1945 Shedd-Bartush Foods in Detroit, Michigan, began manufacturing an all-soy margarine called Willow Run, which contained no products of animal origin. In 1959 Shedd's Foods was acquired by Beatrice Foods. By the late 1970s Willow Run Soy Bean Margarine was widely sold nationwide at natural- and health-food stores. Containing no preservatives or artificial coloring, it was also kosher/pareve. While likes and dislikes with margarine, as with most foods, vary widely with personal preferences, we have been interested to note how many of our associates, like us, find Willow Run to be by far the best tasting margarine of any kind on the market. (In 1970 Shedd-Bartush Foods Inc. had six margarine plants in the US and seven brands, only one of which was Willow Run). In 1966 Miami Margarine in Cincinnati, Ohio, started making an all-soy soft margarine. In 1970 (ref??) the University of Illinois Department of Food Science developed and patented an all-soy diet margarine called Diet Soybean Spread. During the 1970s the first nonhydrogenated soy oil margarine was introduced by Canasoy in Canada. Called Soya Lecithin Spread, it used lecithin to gain somewhat the same effect as hydrogenation.

Several other important early brands of regular margarine were introduced during this period. Kraft Foods introduced Parkay in 1937. In 1943 Standard Brands took over a local margarine, Blue Bonnet, in a merger, and successfully placed it in national distribution.

Spurred by competition, the quality of margarine steadily improved. In 1936 an improved quick-chilling machine, the Votator, was introduced. Now the margarine emulsion could be chilled with this enclosed scraped-surface heat exchanger (which allowed close control of key processing variables) then extruded in the form of noodles before packaging. Between 1930 and 1943 the share of vegetable oils in margarine rose from 76-95%; some tallow and lard continued to be used. This shifting composition helped to increase the price difference between margarine and butter, making margarine all the more attractive.

In 1944 uncolored margarine came to be packaged in the Peters bag, which considerably expedited the job of coloring the product. Countless people experienced the bizarre American ritual of popping the tiny plastic capsule of oil-soluble orange food color inside the sturdy plastic bag, kneading the bag for about 5 minutes to work the color into the white milk-and-fat emulsion, then clipping a corner off the bag and squeezing out the yellow margarine. Most of these people probably became opponents of the antimargarine laws.

During the 1940s efforts to remove margarine restrictions intensified. A key factor in the eventual removal of these regulations was the active involvement of soybean farmers. America was the world's only country where they played a critical role in the struggle. In 1940, at the annual meeting, the American Soybean Association (ASA) adopted a resolution pledging support and active cooperation in seeking the repeal of all federal and state laws restricting the sale of margarine made from domestic oils and fats. In 1943 Oklahoma broke through with the first of what would later become a long string of state repeal actions. In 1945 the ASA, backed by a rapidly growing number of increasingly political conscious soybean farmers, and in league with margarine manufacturers, soybean crushers, cottonseed crushers, and even livestock raisers (who wanted more oilseed meals), all went to Washington and worked to repeal the federal antimargarine laws. A major turning point in the struggle came in 1947, when a crisis in dairy production caused the price of butter to leap to $1 per lb. In response, between 1946 and 1948, margarine production jumped 58%. Consumers added additional pressure for the repeal of the taxes on margarine. In 1947 legislative and court actions removed margarine color and other barriers in several states. Then early in 1948 an all-out onslaught on the federal laws exploded in congress and on editorial pages across the country. After 2 years of unusually intense legislative struggle, hearings, and controversy, the tide finally turned in favor of margarine, after 64 years of oppressive legislation (Howard 1951). Sales of margarine passed those of butter. This was the first example in the US of a major food of vegetable origin replacing one of animal origin. By 1980, margarine outsold butter by two to one (Fig. ??).

The deregulation of margarine led to an influx of new manufacturers which diluted the concentration of control characteristic of earlier periods. In 1935 America's four largest margarine manufacturers accounted for 79% of the total value of shipments. This figure fell slightly to 64% in 1947, then plunged to 39% in 1954. Gradually, however, concentration began to increase and by 1963 the Big Four accounted for 50% of total value (Stuyvenberg 1969).

Starting in the early 1950s, in part because of the entry of major US food companies into the margarine industry now free of federal restrictions, major developments in product quality and marketing began to take place. The introduction in about 1952 of gas chromatography and spectrophotometry, which revolutionized the fields of lipid chemistry and biochemistry (as detailed in Chapter 41), played a key ongoing role in improvements in product quality. Equally important were the many breakthrough developments in the improvement of soy oil flavor, starting in the late 1950s. During this period, America became the world's leader in product development, variety of available products, and marketing innovation. The spread of home refrigerators after World War II proved to be a great advantage to the margarine maker, who soon developed a whole new range of margarines having good consistency and spreadability straight out of the refrigerator. A second major factor that helped to boost margarine sales was the growing concern over saturated fats and cholesterol. Suddenly the nutrition debate seemed to shift in strong favor of margarine over butter, since the former was free of cholesterol, low in saturated fats, and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and linoleic acid. Moreover margarines rich in polyunsaturates were also easy to spread and thus doubly appealing.

In 1950 the federal Margarine Act was signed into law by President Truman, and on July 1 of that year the entire federal system of excise taxes and licenses was brought to an end. This was the beginning of an end of an era in which, as Brown noted in 1945, one American industry (dairy) using legislation, had been able to severely restrict another equally American industry (margarine) for fear that the latter would compete with the former in the same market. (Also in 1950 Canada dropped its Commonwealth ban on margarine, and Australia and South Africa relaxed theirs.) Yet in the US much work remained to be done, for 14 states still had their own antimargarine laws. Many of these state restrictions were removed by 1953. In 1950 the leading butter producing states were Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, in that order. America's last two states to legalize the addition of color (generally natural color) to margarine were Minnesota (1963) and Wisconsin (1967). Yet as of 1970, ten states still required licenses for margarine retailers, wholesalers, and public eating places, imposed excise taxes on both yellow and white margarine, or restricted the serving ofmargarine in state institutions. In California, for example, public eating places wishing to serve margarine had to post a special notice to this effect, could not serve yellow margarine unless the patron "required" it, and in any case had to pay a yearly $2 licensing fee to do this.

It is interesting to note that the rate of margarine growth in America was significantly larger in the decade before the passage of the 1950 Margarine Act than in the decade after it (the 1950s; Fig. ??). The fearful predictions of the butter interests did not come to pass. Margarine sales continued to rise and soy oil use in margarine continued to rise even faster. During 1951 soy oil passed cottonseed oil to become America's leading margarine ingredient. In 1950 soy oil accounted for 45% of the oils and fats in margarine, whereas in 1960 it accounted for 81% of the total. The amount of soy oil used in margarine grew at an average rate of 17.6% a year during the 1950s, compared with only 2.8% a year during the 1960s (Fig. ??).

Shortly after passage of the Margarine Act in 1950, a host of new margarine varietes began to appear on the market. In 1951 Standard Brands introduced quarter pound sticks of margarine in aluminum foil-paper laminate wrappers, that block out the ultraviolet light and thus prevent this light typically used in dairy cases from oxidizing the outer layers of the margarine, leading to rancidity. This quickly became the standard packaging for quality butter as well as for margarine. In 1952 Kraft Foods developed and effectively promoted a softer margarine that "spreads smoothly even when ice cold." In 1956 Lever Bros developed Imperial, a margarine which had a lower melting point and which contained butter. This was the first margarine of premium quality sold at a premium price. In 1957 Kraft developed sticks of soft whipped margarine. The volume of whipped margarines is expanded 50% by whipping them with nitrogen, an inert and harmless gas, making them easier to spread and reducing the number of calories per equal volume serving by one-third. In 1958, with the growing public concern about the health hazards from excess consumption of saturated fats, Standard Brands became the first to capitalize on the nutritional studies being conducted with polyunsaturated vegetable oils. They developed Fleischman's Corn Oil Margarine, which was marketed as a more healthful product, even though it did not contain any unhardened liquid corn oil and its P/S ratio (ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids) was actually no different from that of conventional margarines. (In 1960 Best Foods followed with Mazola, a similar product.) (Miksta 1971).

The 1950s saw a rapid increase in the use of chemical additives to margarine; many had been developed during World War II. Until about 1950 margarine had been highly perishable. The addition of preservatives (typically sodium benzoate initially) and later antioxidants solved that problem; it was illegal to add such substances to butter. During the next 2 decades there was a rapid increase in usage of artificial and natural colors and flavors, mono- and diglycerides, dispersing agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers, fillers, and antispattering agents (Stuyvenberg 1969).


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