I believe in butter.

I loves me some butter. Butter is awesome. Grass fed butter is even better. Margarine is banned in my house, but before I go off on a tangent, let’s find out how margarine first came into existence.

Way back in 1869, French Emperor Louis Napoleon III offered a reward to anyone who could develop a butter substitute for the armed forces and lower classes. Chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès delivered with oleomargarine — or margarine as we now know it. (Shocking! Margarine comes from butter loving France. Feel free to take a moment.) Needless to say, the French hated it.

Margarine didn’t really catch on in America until World War I. When it first arrived on American shelves, it was more expensive than butter and white — not yellow. U.S. laws prohibited manufacturers from adding yellow dye to margarine. Some manufactures sold the product along with capsules of yellow dye — you had to knead in the yellow yourself.

Sadly by the end of the 20th century, margarine consumption surpassed butter consumption in the U.S.

So here’s an advertising dilemma. How do you persuade people to buy a fake (margarine) when the real thing (butter) is readily available? Advertisers have come up with a few strategies.

Convince people that butter is hard work.

Are you still working up a sweat just to butter your bread?

Convince people that margarine is more natural than butter.
A.K.A. the Native American angle.

What did Chief Massasoit bring to the first Thanksgiving? Margarine, duh.

Yowza! I may do a series of future posts on what cultures, races and genders have been pigeonholed into advertising specific products.

And if you can’t find a Native American, get Mother Nature.

Convince people they can’t tell the difference anyway.

Yes, that’s Vic Tayback best known for playing Mel Sharples on Alice. Kiss my grits!

Bonus points for getting Fabio as your spokesperson.

The one glaring omission in these strategies is the nutritional angle. I thought about including it in this post, but soon realized it would open up a large can of worms. Then again, maybe I’ll spin it off into separate post. Until then, can you pass me the butter please?


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