It's Illegal To Serve Margarine In Delaware Restaurants Without Notice

When you get yourself a toasted slice of bread, fried up a warm tortilla, or cut open a steaming hot Southern biscuit, the first thing you reach for is some butter. Dairy products have forever been a comfort food for folks, but butter especially has had a place in people's hearts and stomachs for ages which is why it was such a big deal when margarine hit kitchen shelves. Margarine, oleo, or oleomargarine is one of those things that was invented out of necessity. It may look a lot like butter and taste a whole lot like it too, but margarine is made from plants.

According to MasterClass, margarine is a plant-based mixture purposefully meant to imitate butter. Margarine came onto the culinary scene in France in 1869 when a crippling butter shortage pushed Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès to create oleomargarine, though his version used animal fats. The fats were later replaced by vegetable oils, and today, the product is considered a butter for vegans or those who refrain from consuming dairy products. Reader's Digest tells us that the margarine is made from a blend of oils, water, salt, and emulsifiers and naturally has a gray hue but is often colored yellow to better emulate real butter. It is this buttery disguise and its intrusion into the dairy industry that caused some places in the United States to place laws against the product.

Delaware law

Some laws in Delaware are pretty out of the ordinary. Schwartz & Schwartz says that in Delaware, it's illegal to advertise for adoption, and if you're on probation, marriage is illegal. But perhaps the oddest law of all is title 16 Delaware code, section 3320-B. This law forbids restaurants or any place that serves food to use oleomargarine unless the product is clearly defined in writing on the menu or some other capacity so that the customers know they are consuming margarine and not butter. If the restaurant serves imitation butter without the appropriate warning, those violating the law could face a hefty 12 months in prison!

It seems a bit extreme, but there are some historical factors you must take into consideration. According to the Foundation for Economic Education, there has been a war on margarine for over a century. It all began in 1886 with the Federal Margarine Act being passed in the United States to place more substantial regulations on the product. Why did people feel the need to tightly control margarine? Well, they felt that the product lied and misled consumers to believe that margarine was just cheaper butter and stole customers from the competing (more expensive) butter industry. It wasn't completely true that customers were being outwitted by the butter look-alike; instead, many were simply enticed by the more affordable product. However, this didn't stop many states from passing new laws to wrangle the margarine industry into submission.