Why was Margarine invented?
French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul discovered margaric acid in 1813, named after the pearly deposits of the fatty acid. The word margarine comes from Greek μαργαρίτης or μάργαρον (margaritēs / márgaron), meaning pearl-oyster or pearl, or μαργαρίς (margarís), meaning palm-tree, hence the relevance to palmitic acid. Scientists at the time regarded margaric acid, like oleic acid and stearic acid, as one of the three fatty acids that, in combination, form most animal fats. In 1853, the German structural chemist Wilhelm Heinrich Heintz analyzed margaric acid as simply a combination of stearic acid and the previously unknown palmitic acid.
In 1869 Napoleon III launched a competition to discover a product suitable to replace butter for the navy and lower classes of society. The product had to be inexpensive to manufacture, and capable of being kept without turning rancid in flavor or smelling strong.
Another French chemist, Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès invented a substance he called oleomargarine, which became shortened to the trade name margarine. Mège-Mouriès, patented the concept in 1869 and expanded his first manufacturing operation from France but had little commercial success. His invention involved mixing processed beef tallow with skimmed milk and resulted in a cheap but qualitatively good substitute for butter for the working class and incidentally the Navy. He sold the patent in 1871 to the Dutch company Jurgens, now part of Unilever. In the same year a German pharmacist, Benedict Klein from Cologne, founded the first margarine factory “Benedict Klein Margarinewerke”, producing the brands Overstolz and Botteram.
In 1910 a new process was developed, and the WWI and WWII contributed to popularizing the use of this butter substitute, an emulsion of various inexpensive fats in water and/or milk. Margarine has 16 % aqueous matter. Emulsion means the dispersion of the aqueous phase in the fatty phase in very small droplets by the action of emulsifying bodies, lecithins, which are rich in phosphorus and stimulate the brain
All of these occur in groundnut, rapeseed and especially soya oil. Almost all edible oils were used, including animal oils such as while oil treated to remove its flavor.
Margarine guaranteed to be of all-vegetable origin, of course, has no animal oils. The liquid oils used solidify after a chemical treatment, hydrogenation, an improvement introduced in 1910.
The basic method of making margarine today consists of emulsifying a blend of vegetable oils and fats. Vegetable and animal fats are similar compounds with different melting points. Those fats that are liquid at room temperature are generally known as oils.
Eastern European countries, Great Britain and Scandinavia eat a great deal of margarine, more than the French who invented it. In Eastern Europe, people use margarine mostly as bread spread. Margarine is also used in baking, especially during fasting as a substitute for butter.