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“ There never was, nor can there ever be, a more deliberate, outrageous swindle than this bogus butter business. The whole scheme was conceived in iniquity, is nurtured by commercial moonshiners, and carried into execution by desperate men who are careful to appeal to that protection which our laws wisely throw about those charged with crime, in order that the innocent may not unjustly suffer, while they are deliberately, persistently, and willfully violating the law and profiting by the perpetration of a base fraud upon the people."
These words were used by State Dairy Commissioner Brown, of New York, and none could have been chosen to express more succinctly and more pointedly the opinion entertained by all honest citizens on the dishonest traffic in oleomargarine and other imitation butter by unscrupulous men who throw honesty to tne winds and glory in the wealth obtained through fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation.
. This little book is designed to set before the people the enormity of this abominable traffic; the laws that have been passed or are in contemplation for its prohibition or regulation; the decisions of the courts of law; the movements that have been set on foot against it in the various States of the Union; the injury that is being done to one of our most important agricultural interests ; and such other facts as may fully open the eyes of the public to the importance of procuring legislation for the protection of honest dairymen, dealers in dairy products, and above all, of the consumers. It is made up from a series of articles printed in January last in the New York Star, and takes in all important movements for the inuch-needed reform throughout the country. These articles met with the approval of many of the leading merchants of this city, and, as was evidenced by the favorable notice taken of them by the press in other States and cities, were well received everywhere by those interested in this important question.
Inasmuch as the fight against this gigantic swindle is only now assuming national importance, it is hoped that this book may be of service to those who are interested in procuring legislation for the protection not only of their own interests but of the public health. The manufacture of this imitation butter and its sales to consumers are increasing daily (except in the State of New York, where the strict enforcement of the law has brought about a reduction of about fifty per cent. in the number of violations), and the manufacturers, grown arrogant with their ill-gotten wealth, now demand that the product of their factories shall be declared a legitimate article of human food. Backed by unbounded wealth and aided by the best legal talent that money can procure, they assail all our legislatures, and, if not strenuously resisted by the people themselves, will eventually succeed in effecting their desires. They claim that they want the people educated so that they will appreciate the blessings of the cheap butter they afford them, but they have no desire that that education shall extend to an exposure of the vile materials they use and the injurious processes they employ. So far as it has been possible to obtain them—for the manufacture of oleomargarine is a valuable trade secret—they are given in this book, and if consumers, after reading it, are content to spread the stuff upon their bread, they may consider themselves educated up to the manufacturers' point.
Oleomargarine and Butterine.
A PLAIN PRESENTATION OF THE MOST GIGANTIC SWINDLE
OF MODERN TIMES.
HISTORY OF OLEOMARGARINE.
OLEOMARGARINE, the basis of all the frauds in butter, is the outcome of an ingenious Frenchman's notion that the butter diffused through the milk of the cow is due to the absorption of the animal's fat. Taking some minced beef suet, a few fresh sheeps' stomachs cut into small pieces, a little carbonate of potash and some water, this Frenchman-Hippolyte Mege by name—subjected the mixture to a heat of 113 degrees Fahrenheit; and so, by the action of pepsin in the sheeps' stomachs, separated the fat from the other tissues.), By hydraulic pressure this fat was again separated into stearine and margarine ; and putting ten pounds of the latter into a churn with four pints of milk, three pints of water, a little annoto, Mege succeeded in turning out a compound sufficiently like butter to pass for that article, its only lack being the golden yellow color that characterizes all good butter.
Whether he had produced a deleterious stuff containing the germs of disease and of all manner of loathsome parasites, as one set of scientific experts pronounced, or something far more wholesome than half the butter in the market, as another set emphatically declared, was of little moment to the discoverer, so long as the thing was likely to prove profitable. He patented his process, and found no difficulty in selling rights to handle it in France, England, Holland, Germany, and the United States.
The sole right to issue license for the making of oleomargarine under this patent now lies, it is said, with the American Dairy Company (whose dairies are all fat-boiling factories), which has issued licenses to factories in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New York, New Haven, and other cities. Several parties embarked in the business without troub. ling themselves about paying for the right to do so, but the bulk of the trade is in the hands of licensed firms. The Commercial Manufacturing Company of New York had the lead in this business for several years, but when the new patents, under which animal fat of all de. scriptions could be used, began to come into operation, it was found that material more fit for the soap boiler than for human consumption was being extensively manufactured into butter, and in 1882 the company abandoned this branch of their business.
The Commercial Manufacturing Company began operations in 1876, and their trade soon attained considerable proportions, as much as 500,000 pounds of fat per week having been con. verted by them into oleomargarine in a single week, which, at the rate of 272 pounds of fat to I pound of oil, would yield 200,000 pounds of oil or butter. This rate of production was maintained up to the middle of 1882, when it fell off, owing to two causes, one the passage of an act by the Legislature of New York directing that all oleomargarine should be branded with its true name and forbidding its being colored to resemble butter, and the other the generally prevailing low prices for dairy butter at that time. These low prices rendered the manufacture of sham butter unremunerative. When the retail price of genuine butter falls below twenty-three cents a pound it does not pay to make the imitation product. The average wholesale price for oleomargarine up to the time of the passage of the act was thirten cents a pound for the oil and fifteen cents for the butter. Since that time it has sold as low as eleven cents, and now rules at about eleven and one-half cents. Last summer it sold as low as ten cents per pound.
In a report prepared in 1880 by Mr. Archibald, British Consul at this port, that gentleman furnished the following particulars to the British Board of Trade, at whose request the report was made:
“During the past two years the quantity of fat manufactured into oleomargarine oil and butter by the Commercial Manufacturing Company of New York has been about 200,000 pounds a week, yielding 80,000 pounds of oil and butter. Of this about 75 per cent., or 60, 000 pounds, was the oil product, oleomargarine, all of which was exported in barrels or tierces, for the most part under the name of oleomargarine, but sometimes as butter fat, or simply as oil. This would give a yearly exportation by this company alone of about 3,000,000 pounds. But it is estimated that nearly an equal quantity is being made by the manufacturers outside of New York, so that the total quantity of oleomargarine exported from this port may be stated at about 6,000,000 pounds annually."
Besides this quantity of oil for making sham butter, a large quantity of the butter itself was and is exported, Great Britain coming in for the lion's share of it. Sometimes it is shipped as butter fat, oleomargarine, or butterine, but nearly always as butter, pure and simple. An effort was made by the dealers in legitimate dairy products to prevail upon the cus. toms' authorities to require that nothing but natural butter should be exported; but as it was impossible to inspect and test all the shipments, and as the oleomargarine interest was fully able to look after itself, this proved unavailing, and from that time to this the compounds turned out by the oleomargarine factories have found their way in ever-increasing quantities. to England and the Continent. All of the export bogus butter is put up in half butts or firkins in precisely the same way as the genuine article, or made up into pound pots, covered with muslin wrappers, stamped like pure butter and packed in boxes. It is sold every day in London shops at from ninepence to a shilling a pound.
The great bulk of the oil finds its way to Germany and Holland, enabling the latter country to keep up its reputation as a butter market, without the trouble and expense of keeping up its stock of cows. The heaviest shipments are to Rotterdam, whence the oil is sent to a place called Oes, where it is mixed with a certain proportion of milk, to give it a suspicion of the real butter taste, then colored to make the outward resemblance perfect, and then churned into butterine. This the thrifty Hollanders ship to France and England to be sold as best Dutch butter, although a proportion of what goes to France finds its way to England under the guise of the product of the dairies of Normandy and Brittany, side by side with tubs of “real Irish butter" hailing from the self-same factory on the American side of the Atlantic.
No wonder that the reputation of genuine American butter-than which the world produces no superior-should suffer in foreign lands when practices like these prevail. Every pound of the sham butter that is sold takes the place of a pound of the genuine product of the dairy, and thus the dairy products of the United States are brought into disrepute, and the foreign demand, instead of increasing rapidly, as it naturally should, is daily becoming smaller and smaller. The crime of the traditional Connecticut Yankee who gloried in selling the Britishers wooden nutmegs, sinks into utter insignificance as compared with this monster swindle.
MOVEMENTS AGAINST OLEOMARGARINE. Among the recent movements against the shameful traffic in this city the action taken by the New York Retail Grocers' Union was most significant. This body, which includes among its members most of the respectable grocers of New York, has definitely put itself on record as encouraging the sale of all pure goods, and discouraging and endeavoring in all legal ways to prevent all deceptions that are or may be practiced on customers by the sale of imita.
tion or impure goods. The preamble and resolutions passed by the union are worthy of pub. lication in full, expressing as they do the abhorence by honest tradesmen of the vile practices now in vogue by certain retailers. They read as follows :
"Whereas, We are informed that the laws of the State of New York prohibit the sale of all imitations of butter in the way they are at present manufactured and offered for sale, and
"Whereas, The sale of all imitation butter has been a detriment to the legitimate business of the retail dealer, inasmuch as that it has been a constant temptation to the dealers therein to sell it for butter; and that such fraudulent sales have created a prejudice and fear among the consumers in regard to the purchase of all butter, therefore be it
“Resolved, That we discourage the sale of all imitations of butter and urge all our members and the trade in general not to handle in any manner or form, until such a time as the manu. facturers thereof produce and offer for sale to us an article that will be distinct in appearance, and different in color to that of genuine butter; that will be free from all temptation to fraud, and that will be manufactured and sold to us in strict accordance with the laws of this State. And be it further
“Resolved, That we most respectfully petition the State Dairy Commission to use all power that is conferred upon them to stop the fraudulent sales of all imitation of butter.”
The war against oleomargarine and other counterfeits of butter is spreading rapidly in nearly all the States of the Union, and everywhere the newspapers teem with attacks upon the traffic. In those States which are provided with laws prohibiting or regulating the sale of the product the officers entrusted with their enforcement are acting with increased vigor; and in the States which are not so blessed combined movements among dairymen and honest dealers are in progress to secure the passage of necessary legislation. This movement has become actually national in its importance, for no less than three measures are now pending in Congress looking to a suppression of the fraud. One of these is the bill introduced by Congressman A. J. Hopkins of Illinois, which puts the manufacture of oleomargarine and kindred products under the charge of the Internal Revenue Department and imposes a tax of ten cents apon every pound manufactured. The others are somewhat similar in character, but differ from the Hopkins bill in the amount of penalties imposed for violation of their provisions.
There can be no question that the passage of any of these acts will be bitterly opposed by the oleomargarine lobby in Washington, which is by no means a weak one, but as the subject is one of the most vital importance to an agricultural interest that is second to none in the United States, and as their passage will be almost universally demanded by the constituencies of representatives who come from what are known as the butter-producing States, the issue is not doubtful. The recent decisions in this State and in Pennsylvania as to the constitutional right of the Legislature to enact laws, which, like this, are designed to protect public health, will no doubt have great influence upon the minds of Congressmen, as they have already had upon the judges of minor courts.
In speaking of the operations of his department, recently, State Dairy Commissioner Brown, of New York, said : “ The venders and dealers in bogus butter have deliberately and persistently represented in every possible way that there is now no law in our State to prevent the open manufacture and sale of these adulterated goods, in face of the fact set forth in the opinion of the Court of Appeals in the Marx case, that there are several unrepealed statutes relating to this subject, beside our present law, which the court more than intimates is operative and constitutional. This, it is claimed by them, is legitimate and honorable, while our efforts to prevent such open and flagrant violation of the laws of the State are characterized as oppressive, and the officers and agents of this department are charged with the grave offense of maliciously persecuting enterprising people engaged in legitimate business. This sort of enterprise loads down the United States mails with circulars addressed to the citizens of States
whose laws forbid the sale of these bogus goods, urging them to buy and deal in them, and tempting them by the promise of abnormally large profits to violate the laws of their own States and to commit a crime for which they may be punished by fine and imprisonment. The manufacturers of these adulterated goods purposely make them a close imitation of butter in order to facilitate gross deception; and while it is true that the manufacturers and wholesalers generally sell the goods for imitation of pure dairy butter, they know perfectly well that the retailers are going to sell them for genuine, and they know also that were it not for the fact that the retailer can and will sell them for butter these goods could not be sold at all.
“So rapidly has this deplorable disposition to defy law in order to make money been developed and strengthened by the friends of this slaughter-house butter, in order to hinder us in our work and prevent, if possible, the enforcement of our present statute, that a large number of grocers in New York City have perfected an organization to resist the execution of these laws, and have raised a fund and employed attorneys with that unworthy object in view. Every one of these dealers, when he leaves the store at the close of the day, goes home for the night well knowing that his property is quite secure because he is protected by the laws of this great State, and that the whole power of the commonwealth is pledged to protect him and his property against all who would do him harm. And yet we witness to-day the startling and shameful spectacle of a number of business men, so called, banding themselves together to resist the laws of their own State, upon whose protecting care they so confidently and completely rely for all that makes them secure in their property and safe in their persons and homes."
In Ohio a strong movement is under way to procure the passage of a statute by which a dairy commission shall be constituted for the purpose of enforcing laws already in existence against the manufacture and sale of fraudulent dairy products. Last autumn the Ohio Dairymen's Protective Association, a recently formed organization, took a hand in the election, and in several counties their interest was sufficient to elect members of the Legislature who were pledged to use their best efforts against bogus butter and its allies.
In August last the National Dairymen's Protective Association, formed for the purpose of de.. vising means to guard the agricultural interest against the frauds that bid fair, if continued, to ruin them, adopted a resolution instructing their officers to issue an address to the dairy farmers of America, and this has recently been published. Its terse and epigrammatic statement of the evils growing out of the nefarious traffic in counterfeit butter are well worthy of reproduction here, and will be read with interest not only by the farmers to whom the address is made, but by the merchants whose interests are jeoparded and the public whose health is endangered. The address says:
“For ten years an enemy to the interests of butter producers has been steadily gaining strength by fraud and deception, until the natural product of the dairy has become profitless and ruin threatens an industry second to none other in agriculture and the equal of any in our national economy. Oleomargarine, butterine, suine, and other compounds fraudulently sold under the name of butter have made an investment in land and cattle of over $200,000,000 devoted to dairy purposes and an annual production of $500,000,000 per year almost value. less, not by honest competition, but by deception of the most criminal kind, while the consumer has been swindled correspondingly.
“Our export trade in butter has been almost ruined by the prejudice created against our product in the foreign markets of the world. Values of dairy products have declined more than 50 per cent., and what would be a profitable industry under natural conditions has become a losing trade. Through the paralyzation of this great industry, all others in America suffer in sympathy.
“ Those who are the cause of this loss and injury to the farmers of America and the commerce of the country are enemies of the public weal. They not only wrong the producer of legitimate butter, but impose upon the consumer. Were their products sold honestly for what they are the wrong would be great enough, but marketed under the name of butter, at prices far below what a genuine article can be procured for, consumers are hoodwinked into