In Thomas J. Pence’s “Fight Taken Up for Oleomargarine,” he analyzes the benefits of margarine, a cheaper, nutritious butter alternative, and the atrocious nature of taxing this new, evolutionary food.
The article was written in February of 1910 and posted in Raleigh’s newspaper, News and Observer. During this time, booming populations rates in North Carolina resulted in the high demand for food production. Pence sheds light on the tense reality that the “high price of food supply is attracting the attention of the entire country”. As food demand continued to rise, alternative agricultural and culinary methods began sprouting throughout the United States. People became desperate for more successful, affordable, and simple agricultural and culinary practices. Oleomargarine, or margarine, was introduced to the Carolinas as a cheaper, nutritious alternative to its pricey competitor, butter. Butter and margarine not only provide insight into the new practice of food modification and adulteration, but the margarine and butter markets symbolize a gap in the class structure.
Butter was a known as an indulgence of the pristine upper class. Butter provided a significant contrast to margarine, a cheap alternative that held connotations of being a “poor man’s food.” In Pence’s article, he analyzes the discriminatory nature of the ten cent margarine tax, asserting, “it is using the taxing power to help one class of our people to monopolize the market for their product”. The controllers of the butter market were conveniently in charge of local and state governments; therefore, they manipulated their power to promote the success of the upper class while sucking funds from poor margarine buyers and suppliers. In this age of decadence, the rich get richer, and the poor continue to wallow in deprivation. This article provides insight into how the manipulation of food prices and taxation affected the class gap and economic structure of the entire state.
- “Fight Taken Up for Oleomargarine.” News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), February 1, 1910: 3. NewsBank. https://infoweb-newsbank com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/apps/news/document-view?p=AMNEWS&docref=image/v2:142AF7DDEFE5AB9C@EANX-1497C7401B685532@2418704-1497BCE4632DF0B2@2-1497BCE4632DF0B2@.