History and Story Behind Inventions: Margarine

About the story behind the invention of margarine, history and biography of inventor Hippolyte Mege-Mouries.

INVENTION: Margarine

INVENTOR: Hippolyte Mege-Mouries, France

YEAR: 1869

HOW INVENTED: Because butter was expensive and in short supply, Emperor Napoleon III, of France, sought a cheap, tasty substitute for it. Also, on the eve of the Franco-Prussian War, he needed a butter substitute that would store well on ships. The Emperor sponsored a contest, and offered a prize for the best butter substitute submitted. Mege-Mouries mixed suet fat in water heated at low temperature, and then added milk. He called the resultant product oleomargarine because he thought beef fat possessed fatty margaric acid, which it doesn't. But his nutritious, inexpensive butter substitute won the prize. It became popular in France, spread through Europe, and during a butter shortage in the U.S. during W.W. I, it caught on in the New World as well.

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