Monday, August 19, 2013

"Take up the cudgels for the cow"

Wisconsin State Senator Joseph Quarles on March 27, 1902 arguing for butter and against oleomargarine:
Things have come to a strange pass when the steer competes  with  the  cow  as  a  butter  maker.  When the hog conspires with the steer to monopolize the dairy business, it is time for self-respecting men to take  up  the  cudgels  for  the  cow  and  defend  her time-honored prerogatives.... We ought not now to  desert  her  or  permit  her  to  be  displaced,  her sweet  and  wholesome  product  supplanted  by  an artificial compound of grease that may be chemically  pure  but  has  never  known  the  fragrance  of clover, the freshness of the dew or the exquisite flavor which nature bestows exclusively on butter fat to adapt it to the taste of man.... I desire butter that comes from the dairy, not the slaughterhouse. I want butter that has the natural aroma of life and health. I decline to accept as a substitute caul fat, matured  under  the  chill  of  death,  blended  with vegetable oils and flavored by chemical tricks.
In the "Dairy State" the dairy industry had a lot of political clout but "even the state’s dairy lobby failed to push through legislation that would have required margarine to be colored pink or brown." Wisconsin did have laws prohibiting margarine from being died yellow [although butter often was]. In the 1960's this prohibition came under political attack.
A great moment in Wisconsin political history...occurred in June 1965 when a blindfolded state senator named Gordon Roseleip stood in the Senate chambers and tried to distinguish butter from oleomargarine.

He failed.

“That’s oleo,” Roseleip said after being fed a small amount by a Senate colleague, Marty Schreiber, who later became governor.

It was butter. .... [more]
Most of the state senators who took part in the blind taste test (the choices: butter, margarine and a spread developed at the University of Wisconsin) identified them correctly but Senator Roseleip got it wrong. "After Roseleip’s death in 1989, one of his daughters revealed that the Senator truly had been handicapped. Worried about his health, his wife had, without his knowledge, substituted margarine for butter on the family table."