Where does Margarine come From?

” Margarine originated with the discovery by French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul in 1813 of margaric acid (itself named after the pearly deposits of the fatty acid from Greekμαργαρίτης or μάργαρον (margaritēs / márgaron), meaning pearl-oyster or pearl, or μαργαρίς (margarís), meaning palm-tree, hence the relevance to palmitic acid). Scientists at the time regarded margaric acid, like oleic acid and stearic acid, as one of the three fatty acids that, in combination, form most animal fats. In 1853, the German structural chemist Wilhelm Heinrich Heintz analyzed margaric acid as simply a combination of stearic acid and the previously unknown palmitic acid.

Emperor Napoleon III of France offered a prize to anyone who could make a satisfactory butter alternative, suitable for use by the armed forces and the lower classes. French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès invented a substance he called oleomargarine, which became shortened to the trade name margarine. Mège-Mouriès patented the concept in 1869 and expanded his initial manufacturing operation from France but had little commercial success. In 1871, he sold the patent to the Dutch company Jurgens, now part of Unilever. In the same year a German pharmacist, Benedict Klein from Cologne, founded the first margarine factory “Benedict Klein Margarinewerke”, producing the brands Overstolz and Botteram.

John Steele wrote in his 1850 California gold miner’s journal: “I became acquainted with Mr. Dainels, from Baltimore, who… manufactured butter from tallow and lard, and it looked and tasted so much like real butter, that… I could not tell the difference. However, he deceived no one, but sold it for just what it was. He never explained the process of its manufacturer, and whether he was the originator of oleomargarine I do not know.”

The principal raw material in the original formulation of margarine was beef fat. In 1871, Henry W. Bradley of Binghamton, New York received U.S. Patent 110,626 for a process of creating margarine that combined vegetable oils (primarily cottonseed oil) with animal fats. Shortages in beef fat supply combined with advances by Boyce and Sabatier in the hydrogenation of plant materials soon accelerated the use of Bradley’s method, and between 1900 and 1920 commercial oleomargarine was produced from a combination of animal fats and hardened and unhardened vegetable oils. The depression of the 1930s, followed by the rationing of World War II, led to a reduction in supply of animal fat; and, by 1945, “original” margarine almost completely disappeared from the market. In the United States, problems with supply, coupled with changes in legislation, caused manufacturers to switch almost completely to vegetable oils and fats (oleomargarine) by 1950, and the industry was ready for an era of product development” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margarine