Geek Trivia

By Whose Request Was Margarine Invented?

Napoleon III
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A portrait of Napoleon wearing a white tie tuxedo and sash
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Answer: Napoleon III

If you’re a fan of margarine, then you have none other to thank for the butter-substitute than Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, or Napoleon III, the first elected president of France and the nephew and heir of Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1869, a butter shortage led Napoleon III to set up a prize to be awarded to the first person who could create a nutritive and shelf-stable fat to replace butter in the larders of French homes and military bases.

A French chemist by the name of Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès won the prize with his mixture of beef tallow and skimmed milk. He called his mixture oleomargarine. Along the way, the name was shortened and we know it today as plain old margarine.