Where Has All the Margarine Gone?

I was in the supermarket today to buy butter. Butter, you know, that nice fat that separates out of churned cream. The butter was surrounded by stuff labeled “Plant Butter.” The packages had the brand names previously used for margarine. But there was NO MARGARINE for sale.

I guess when agribusiness was allowed to call ground up oats or nuts in water “milk,” they figured they could call margarine “butter.” And what the heck is in “fat free half and half?”

O tempora, O mores.


I think country crock used to be called margarine. I just looked at the ingredients in that and the “Plant based” butter. Both are mostly palm oil, palm kernel oil. Country crock has soybean oil. The “plant based” has canola oil and olive oil but they are down the list. The plant based stuff has the same calories as butter. I don’t know why anyone who would use it other than vegans or people with dairy issues. There are plenty of competing brands at my store so someone likes it. It’s a little cheaper but not by much.

I was making a cream of asparagus soup for company once and ran out of half and half. My husband went to the market to get some more and accidently bought the fat free stuff. We didn’t even know that was a product. It turned the soup a strange unappetizing color, almost dayglow. I didn’t notice that it was fat free until I noticed the color. I tossed it. It tasted terrible.

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Skim milk, corn syrup, and stuff from test tubes. All for a 20 calorie reduction.

No thanks!


You mean like broth is no longer simply called broth, but “bone broth?”

It’s the hip new lingo. FF half n half has been around forever, tho.


It all started with Olive Garden calling olive oil “Italian butter”, which is even more annoying than “EVOO”, especially because there really is a type of butter called Italian butter.

(That’s my theory, anyway.)

Margarine got a bad name because of trans fats, so if companies changed the name, it’s no surprise. After all, it’s now dried plums rather than prunes.


It’s still there.

We buy buckets of this stuff for our restaurants


Wouldn’t the food in those restaurants be better with real butter?

Perhaps, though not necessarily when you are trying to make softer or more tender baked goods or cooking things at higher temperatures.

Pound for pound margarine is also cheaper.

(Also, some people like me, do not enjoy the taste of butter, so a neutral “fat” is preferrable)

Both butter and margarine are water-in-fat emulsions. Water in vegetable oil in the case of margarine; milk in butterfat in the case of butter. (We’re pretty sure you could emulsify water with any animal fat such as lard or tallow, for that matter, and call it something.) We’ve heard some of our elders refer to margarine as “oleo” as in oil.

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We’ve always been informed that stock starts with browned bones, and broth starts with simmered meat. Former sports mouth feel from the bones’ collagen, latter’s protein base isn’t rich in collagen. Doing the math, “bone broth” is an oxymoron.

It’s a dumb marketing term catering to the keto crowd, who will buy anything that sounds like a caveman may have made it.


I’ll bet you can find a lot of margarine in a kosher grocery store, or a grocery that has a clientele that buys kosher products. Margarine isn’t dairy, but butter is, and mixing meat and dairy isn’t kosher, hence the use of margarine.


I think the point wasn’t that margarine didn’t exist anymore, but that it’s been renamed “plant butter”. That said, companies catering to the kosher markets may well retain the name “margarine” to avoid confusion.

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My mother was of the era where margarine was white and tablets were included to mix in so it would be yellow.
I think the butter lobby was stronger back then.


When I was a young kid, my mother let me mix the color into the margarine.

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The butter lobby was stronger. And that’s why, in certain states, margarine was sold without being pre-colored.

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My mother told me a similar story about mixing a yellow tablet into the white margarine.

This is the problem with “oat” milk and others. They ain’t milk. Just like the jar of “Mayo” I bought that sucked ass. No real mayonnaise in that tub.

My mom favorite childhood story was when oleo first came out, it was illegal to sell in Wisconsin. So, she and my grandpa headed to the Illinois border to smuggle some back up to the dairy state. My mom, a smuggler! 5 lbs. of oleo entered ole Milwaukee back in the 40s; and, she said, about 4.5 pounds remained. HAAAATED IT! Can’t fake milk, can’t fake butter, and they sure as sht can’t fake mayo.


My father grew up in Wisconsin, and apparently, when margarine was first sold when he was a kid, the coloring pellets weren’t orange but pink, so the dyed margarine wouldn’t resemble butter.

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