December 30, 2003

Crazy Laws

Patti sent along a list of "Ludicrous laws" she spotted on the internet. But she said she agreed with #10.

LAW: Unless a customer orders it specifically, it's against the law to serve margarine instead of butter at a restaurant.
COUNTRY: USA / STATE: Wisconsin
CITATION: 97.18(4)
ACTUAL: (4) 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.
i wasn't entirely sure whether she agreed with the law, or agreed that it was ludicrous? I'm firmly guessing she agrees with the law (she'll correct me if I'm wrong). I understand where it is coming from.

There was huge opposition to oleomargarine when it was first introduced. Opposition from the dairy industry, that is. In fact, at first it was prohibited from having coloring added to it to make it look more like butter. (It looks like Crisco without the color, of course. Not appetizing)

Milk fat shortages during the war changed all that. Suddenly we needed people to find oleomargarine acceptable. They dropped the "oleo" part for margarine's trade name.

I have no idea what "margarine" means. I should look that one up when I get home. [ Later: ah. It derives from the discovery of margaric acid ]

Anyhow, this would be a borderline one for me. I'd rather not have a restaurant try to pass margarine off as butter. But despite industry claims, no one who cares is going to mistake margarine for butter.

I like Promise margarine on toast, by the way. Repeat exposure in childhood conditioned me. But I use butter for cooking. I don't put margarine in a recipe, because butter is the ultimate flavor enhancer.

But I digress. I take issue with calling the first law ludicrous as well. Moving wild animals (in this case, skunks) is not a good idea, no matter whether it is across state lines or not. Animals breed to a certain population level in a particular area because the conditions there favor it. Moving an animal does nothing to change the conditions that allowed that animal to exist (availability of food and shelter, etc.) Moving it to a new area which has its own balance upsets the balance. Now the animals in an area which cannot support their population will resort to more aggressive scavenging, becoming more of a nuisance to the human population and possibly even falling ill and transmitting disease to humans.

Moving skunks is a bad idea.

Feel free to comment on any of the other laws. I'm willing to bet there are some better lists of crazy laws.

Some related links:
Canadian margarine history, courtesy of the CBC archives.
Web page mentioning some of the silly proposals margarine faced
Wikipedia entry on Margarine

Posted by James at December 30, 2003 12:31 PM
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Comments

There are many restaurants that will not only give you margarine instead of butter, they will ASK if you want butter and then bring you margarine. And it pisses me off.

I suppose the popcorn people at the movie theater should be shot for calling that butter-colored popcorn lubricant "butter" as well, but I don't think anyone really believes it is butter anyway.

Posted by: julie at December 30, 2003 9:14 PM

"You can't always get what you wa-ant" (sung)

Yeah. They shouldn't try to pass off margarine as butter. But the big giveaway (aside from the flavor and appearance) is that margarine is much more spreadable at room temperature.

I'm not sure we need a law, but I wouldn't call the law ludicrous.

Posted by: James at December 30, 2003 9:49 PM

One would have to have a very large mouth to suck a butt. Perhaps this was not a comment made by a rational mind.

And my mother always said to be particular whom you tell to "eat me" because you never know where that person's been. (I'm serious.)

Posted by: Patti M. at May 14, 2004 3:19 PM

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