Margarine Memories

By Patricia B. Mitchell

My cousin Dail Yeatts shares this piece of food nostalgia from his growing-up days in Dry Fork, Virginia:

Did you eat margarine or butter on your toast this morning?

Margarine is better now than it was when I was a boy [in the late 1930's]. It came in a clear plastic bag and was as white as lard. There was a liquid button-sized container attached to the inside of the bag. To get the margarine to look like butter, you had to break the button. That caused the liquid to run inside the bag with the tasteless white stuff.

The fun for a child was to break the yellow button and to knead the margarine with the yellow liquid until it was mixed. (It was almost as much fun as shaking the bluing box so the specks of bluing would turn the rinse water blue for the last dipping of clothes prior to hanging them on the clothesline.)

The margarine, as I remember, did not help the taste of toast. It did make it greasy and gave us bragging rights to tell people we were using margarine at our house. Most people had never used margarine or heard of it at that time. They had to eat good-tasting butter while we were doing the uptown thing by eating tasteless margarine.