ABSTRACT

The general socio-economic background of the ‘new’ margarine industry was expressed clearly by the industry’s historian:

Increasing mechanization meant the development of new production equipment and the factory as workplace. Investments of huge dimensions were made: streets, railways and factories were built; the infrastructure was improved. Thousands of new workplaces were created in industrial production. At the same time, the way of life changed, especially for people’s eating habits. Apart from traditional food, the use of fat in the diet ranged from fresh butter in the upper classes, to so-called ‘mixed butter’ produced from cheap butcher’s fat like lard, suet and mutton fat amongst the poorer people. The population explosion during the era of industrialization made the fat supply inadequate. The demand for easy-to-spread fat rose enormously because more people worked in industry where there were no canteens, so that taking one’s own food to work was imperative. Fat played an important role in the diet, yet for most people there was a shortage of dairy fat – butter was too expensive for many families. 2 The working classes could only buy adulterated fats, known as ‘mixed butter’ or later in the nineteenth century margarine, which cost half as much as fresh butter. The demand for margarine increased so much that German production could not meet demand and the import of margarine from the Netherlands became increasingly necessary.