Butter lovers and those who prefer margarine are finally able to dine in peace in Wisconsin. An antiquated law prohibiting the replacement of butter with margarine in restaurants has finally been appealed. Only in Wisconsin would this happen.
By Andi Summers
Wisconsin has recently been in the news, and yes, it is over their undying love of dairy products.
The Wisconsin legislature has finally repealed the outdated and diary conscious “Oleomargarine Laws.” The same laws that made it illegal to serve margarine in place of butter in restaurants throughout the Badger State. Now, with the law finally repealed, it allows food businesses to freely, and without prejudice, serve margarine and it allows diners to finally say, “I can’t believe it’s not butter.”
The Oleomargarine laws are a part of Wisconsin Statue 97.18 that states, “The serving of colored oleomargarine or margarine at a public eating place as a substitute for table butter is prohibited unless it is ordered by the customer.”
But what does that really mean? The law made it illegal, and very anti-Wisconsin, for a restaurant to replace the god-like dairy product, butter, with its oil based counterpart. And in a state that boasts about their dairy like a proud father at a little league game, this was serious business.
According to the website eastwisconsincheese.com (yes, Wisconsin Cheeseheads would have a website about this), the main difference between the two is as simple as, “butter is a natural dairy product made by churning or shaking cream until it reaches a semisolid state. Margarine is made from a single oil, or blend of oils, including animal and vegetable fats.”
Breaking the butter-only law was punishable by up to three months in jail. Fortunately for Fabio, and those who prefer the equally delicious oil-based spread, the law was hardly ever enforced, according to Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Dale Kooyenga, who brought the repeal of the law into being. Not only is the punishment rarely, if ever, enforced, the dairy state doesn’t think they will be seeing a lot of butter covered hostility. The fierce battle between margarine and butter cooled in 1967, after the 1985 law banning the sale or use of margarine colored to imitate butter was repealed.
Now butter lovers, extra butter lovers and margarine fans are able to dine in peace. So go ahead and butter your bagels, with whatever you want.
Photo: Poppy Thomas-Hill