The Butter Battle Comes to Wisconsin


butter side up!

Restaurants, prisons, and schools in Wisconsin are forbidden by law from serving margarine unless it is explicitly requested. The Dairy State takes its butter seriously, of course. But the law, which carries a $100 to $300 fine plus possible jail time, is rarely enforced.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), one of the 12 legislators looking to repeal the rules against margarine substitution for butter, calls the law "silly, antiquated and anti-free market."

Heck, even one of the state's biggest butter-makers (churners?) has a soft spot for repeal, telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

"I'm a little torn about this law," said Trevor Wuethrich, the fourth-generation co-owner of Grassland Dairy Products, headquartered in Greenwood, halfway between Eau Claire and Wausau. Grassland operates two plants in Wisconsin and also owns West Point Dairy Products, with plants in Utah and Nebraska.

"Everybody should eat butter—prisoners and school children included," he said. "I'm not going to say everybody must have butter. Everybody should have a choice."

Check out the Journal-Sentinel article for some outstanding retro shots of 1960s housewives shamelessly bootlegging margarine.

For more on the history of oleo prohibition, plus bonus bootlegger mugshots, go here.