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March 29, 1971

Origin of Margarine

JAMA. 1971;215(13):2114-2115. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180260056026

To the Editor.—  I have been interested in the history of bread spreads for some time and I am delighted to see a scholarly and thoroughly researched article on bread spreads (214:2312, 1970).It may be of interest to the readers of The Journal to receive information on the origin of the use of margarine1: In brief, it was initiated as an economy measure by Abbott Francis Geschmiertsparer (1645 to 1712?) of the Order of St. Benedict in Benedictbeuren, Bavaria.The first, although somewhat illegible, report was found in one of the monastery's food lists, which states in 1701: "Unschlitt and Fischoel, 12 Fass" (lard and fish oil, 12 barrels). On pursuing this matter I discovered the following: The monks were required to attend prayer in 1690 (to about 1712, when this practice was changed) for at least 14 hours a day. Consequently, they developed the habit of