Geek Trivia

Which Of These Foodstuffs Used To Include A DIY Dye Pack To Make It More Appetizing?

Artificial Maple Syrup
Instead Of The Lunar Rover, NASA Considered Using Which Of The Following Instead?

Answer: Margarine

Margarine is an imitation butter spread created in 1869 by French inventor Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès in response to a challenge issued by Emperor Louis Napoleon III to create a cheap butter substitute for the French armed forces and lower classes.

Despite early positive response, however, margarine has had a long and rocky relationship with the public, dairy farmers, and legislators. Margarine, in its natural state, is a pure white color reminiscent of lard. Early on, manufacturers dyed their batches of margarine to resemble butter, but the dairy industry in the United States succeeded in pushing legislation through that banned the practice. In several states, legislation went even further: not only banning the use of yellow dye, but insisting that all margarine products be dyed an unappetizing pink color.

In response, rather than continue to sell pure white (and poorly selling) margarine, companies started including dye packs with the margarine so that consumers could tint their margarine yellow at home. While early versions required you to mix it all together in a tub or bowl, companies quickly innovated and, like the advertisement for Delrich Margarine seen here shows, included the dye in capsule form within the bag of margarine itself–you could mix and knead the color in without so much as a bowl, spoon, or mess.

Margarine bans and restrictions remained in effect throughout most of the early and mid 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the last states dropped their anti-margarine legislation. Unsurprisingly, the last holdout, relaxing the laws in 1967, was the very dairy-centric state of Wisconsin.