Stuff Happens When You Fool Mother Nature

Butter is milk fat that is rapidly converted by the body into people fat. Butter had been around for 4000 years with no real competition until 1869, when French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès horrified American dairy farmers with his patented, lower-priced spread known as margarine.

Frantic political lobbying and prohibitive licensing fees ensued. Margarine was blamed for destroying the moral order and threatening the American way of life. Some states banned it outright. When margarine makers added yellow coloring to their naturally grey product, butter makers cried foul, claiming this was a sneaky ploy to deceive the public (never mind that the familiar yellow of butter was itself the result of artificial coloring).

Margarine-makers countered by supplying a separate capsule of yellow coloring to be added by the consumer. In Wisconsin, the heart of America’s dairy land, even this was a crime punishable by heavy fines. It wasn’t until 1967 that this margarine-coloring law was finally repealed.

All of this churn over butter inspired a series of 30-second commercials in the early 70’s starring none other than Mother Nature herself (aka actress Dena Dietrich). When told she has just tasted margarine, a puzzled MN protests, proclaiming it is too sweet and creamy. The off-screen narrator responds that the company’s margarine is so delicious, “…I guess it fooled even you, Mother Nature.” The mood suddenly becomes ominous as she replies with her trademark catchphrase, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

We’ve been warned. Still, researchers continue to seek benefits by tinkering with the natural order of things. <continue reading>