“Throughout the 20th century, the food industry worked to provide not only convenience but also ostensibly wholesome substitutes for natural foods, including butter. In fact, margarine has been around since the late 19th century, but for many years it was white by law. Eventually, however, it came with added artificial flavor and a capsule of yellow artificial food coloring (to be kneaded in after purchase) so it would taste and look more like the real thing. At first countries including Canada, Australia and France, as well as some American states—notably Wisconsin, the Dairy State—outlawed colored margarine to protect their butter trade. As unappealing as hydrogenated oil with a side of chemical yellow color sounds today, “modern” housewives trekked across state lines to procure the factory-made substitute and bring it back to their kitchens.
Eventually“millions of American palates adjusted to artificial flavors and then welcomed them; and consumers started to let the food industry make a great many decisions on matters of taste that people in the past had always made for themselves,” writes Laura Shapiro in Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America. Continue reading