Facts About Margarine

15 Interesting Facts About Margarine

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Margarine is a common condiment found in many households around the world. While butter used to reign supreme, the introduction of margarine in the 1860s provided a cheaper alternative for cooking and spreading. Though originally created as a substitute, margarine has become a staple ingredient in its own right.

When it was first introduced, margarine caused controversy and was banned in some places. However, after much improvement over the years, modern margarine contains heart-healthy unsaturated fats and essential nutrients. The creamy spread continues to grow in popularity thanks to its versatility, affordability, and nutrition1.

There is a lot more to margarine than meets the eye. Here are 15 fascinating facts you may not know about this famous butter substitute:

Facts About Margarine

Margarine history
  1. Margarine was invented in 1869 by French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès in response to Napoleon III’s offer of a prize for creating a cheap butter substitute that could be used by commoners and the military.
  2. The original ingredients included beef tallow, milk, and salt. It was dyed yellow to mimic the color of true butter and was marketed under the name “oleomargarine.”
  3. Margarine was first introduced to the United States in 1874, but faced pushback from the dairy industry. By 1902, 32 U.S. states had enforced taxes or bans against margarine colored to look like butter.
  4. Wartime shortages in supply chains led to the lifting of restrictive margarine laws in many parts of the U.S. By the 1950s, most of the remaining state-level restrictions on margarine were removed.
  5. In the early days, margarine was white and sold uncolored in blocks. Consumers would dye it themselves with yellow food coloring capsules to make it look like butter.
  6. Vegetable oils replaced animal fats in margarine production by the 1940s for economic reasons. Common oils used today include soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, palm, and olive oil.
  7. Margarine has less saturated fat than butter, but often contains trans fats from the hydrogenation process used to solidify vegetable oils. Modern margarines use less partial hydrogenation.
  8. Soft tub margarine stored in the refrigerator was introduced in the 1960s and increased demand thanks to its easy spreadability. Whipped and liquid varieties came next.
  9. Canada repealed federal margarine color restrictions in 1948, though Quebec maintained a ban until 2008 to protect the dairy industry. By this time, most other Canadian provinces had allowed colored margarine.
  10. Margarine taxes persisted in parts of Canada through the 1990s before finally being lifted. Prairie provinces were the last to abolish restrictions on margarine.
  11. Consumption of margarine overtook butter in the United States in 1957. American consumption peaked in 1996 before dropping slightly in favor of butter, olive oil, and other spreads.
  12. The natural color of margarine without added dyes ranges from white to light yellow depending on the oils used. Olive oil and canola oil lend some yellow hue.
  13. Margarine is lower in vitamins A and E compared to butter since the vitamins are removed when plant oils are extracted. Many brands now add these vitamins back into margarine.
  14. Sales of butter overtook margarine again in the United States in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. This may reflect consumer preference for more natural, less processed foods.
  15. Global margarine consumption continues to increase, especially in developing nations. India, China, and countries in Africa and the Middle East are major and growing markets.


From its controversial beginnings to its peak popularity in the 20th century, margarine has come a long way. Though butter has regained favor with some health-conscious consumers, margarine still remains a dietary staple around the world thanks to its versatility, nutrition, and affordability.

The development of margarine is a story of scientific ingenuity and shifting societal attitudes. As food technology and awareness continues improving, it will be interesting to see if future innovations can dethrone margarine as the king of butter substitutes. For now, this maligned condiment remains a beloved part of many cultures and cuisines.

  1. https://factgaze.com/facts-about-margarine/ []

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