Where’s The Oleo???

The practice of sharing recipes on Facebook seems to be increasing in popularity.  . If I didn’t hide some of those things I think I could rename the site recipesareus.com or something like that.  I think it should be a rule that you must try the recipe prior to sharing it on Facebook.

I am learning to cook so I read some of the things, I’m not keeping score but I believe desserts top the list, followed by casseroles, then crock-pot somethings.  I don’t make desserts for a couple reasons.  I am trying to lose weight and I don’t know the difference between blending and folding and cutting etc.  The casseroles usually have more than four ingredients and more than four steps in the instructions, four is about my limit of understanding and they aren’t real practical for a family of one.  I run out of appetite way before I run out of casserole.  My crock-pot repertoire is pretty well established and I have the same leftover problem as with the casseroles.

Some of the dessert recipes are tempting especially if one of the ingredients is oleo.  That is a pretty good indicator that the thing has stood the test of time.

When was the last time you tried to find some oleo on your grocer’s shelf?  I checked mine.  It wasn’t on aisle 5, 7 or 9; it wasn’t in the dairy case.  They didn’t have anything called oleo.

I think I should insert a quick disclaimer.

 My facts for the rest of this post come from two sources, the top of my head and the Internet.  The reliability of both is a little shaky.

If I were to ask my granddaughter about oleo, she would probably respond with “oley who” or “oley what?”  My great grandmother might have a similar response.

The product and the name originated in France in the 1800s, oleo is actually short for oleomargarine however it didn’t become a household word here in the USA until WWII.  Butter was kind of scarce and expensive; oleo became the popular alternative.

I think the name, oleo, had about a four-generation run.  My grandma probably preferred butter even if she had to churn it but she knew about oleo and used it.  To my mom it was a kitchen staple and occupied icebox, and later, refrigerator space along side the butter.  Yes she always had both.

My girls knew about oleo because my mom always asked, “do you want butter or oleo”.  They wanted butter because they didn’t know what this oleo stuff was.  They sometimes commented, “Granny Pearl’s butter tasted funny.”  The difference, Granny Pearl called oleo, oleo and she called butter, butter; we didn’t have any butter but we called our oleo, butter.

My earliest memory of oleo is watching my mom stir in the little packet of orange stuff, which came with it, to make it yellow like butter.  I wondered why you couldn’t buy it already yellow. I found my answer on the Internet.  The dairy industry used their influence.  It was illegal to deceive the public, if it wasn’t butter it couldn’t look like butter.

As my generation matured, I think “butter” replaced “oleo” or “margarine” as the generic or common name for Parkay, Country Crock or a multitude of other brand names and butter became known as “real butter”.

I shop for groceries at about four different places; I will continue to look for something called oleo.  If I find it I will attempt to make one of those desserts pictured on Facebook.

Do I have too much time on my hands?  Probably

Should I focus on some of my real problems?  Definitely

Should I do blog posts about insignificant things like oleo???

Good Night and God Bless.


I know it’s too early for Good Night.  I wrote this last night and couldn’t decide whether to “post it” or “pitch it”.  

6 thoughts on “Where’s The Oleo???

  1. Dave, the first experience I had with oleo was going to Jim’s parents home for dinner. They had this big block of what I thought was butter. (we made our own butter) needless to say I was not ready for that greasy taste from oleo. Never did that again. I think it tastes funny, also.

  2. All of the recipes I have that are written in my mom’s, Phyllis’s, or Linda’s hand call for oleo. I don’t remember ever calling it that myself. A stick of butter always meant margarine for me until just a few years ago. I discovered that real butter is really better in baked goods.

  3. I remember oleo well. Haven’t thought of it in YEARS! Yes we used it a lot at our house. Please continue to write about things like oleo to help me jog my memory!!!!!


  4. My grandmother would not put the color in it…. I ate white oleo for years….. then at Macomb we always had butter…..then back in town….back to oleo….I have discovered that even though drank raw milk as a child….. I do not like the flavor of raw milk…. need pasteurized…..I miss Pearls canned goods at the Farmers Market…. lots of Sat spent visiting with her about old friends….. and picking up soup mix for the winter.

  5. I remember oleo also but my Grandmother’s wouldn’t us anything but butter, usually homemade. My Mom used oleo all the time she thought is was wonderful. Me not so much, I use butter all the time but remember oleo and Fluffo (a yellow shorting like Crisco.) Mom baked with it also. I haven’t thought of that in a long time thanks for the memory jog.

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