Slowly we are coming to the understanding that the vegetable oils we are using almost every day can be very harmful for our health. Most vegetable oil are man made and contain trans-fats and these fats are not being found in nature than only in very small amounts in some meats and dairy products.
I will not explain why and how transfat is affecting our health in this post, but tell you how it became so popular although since decades there are sources warning for the health risks.
The history of vegetable oil started when two men decided to work together.
The history of William Proctor
A fire destroyed William Proctor’s candle making business in England and he brought his business to the United States.
The history of James Gamble
James Gamble fled from Ireland and became a soap manufacturer.
What brought them together
These two man married sisters that lived in Cincinnati and the brother in laws formed the now well-known Procter and Gamble company a soap and candle manufacturing company at that time.
The soap in those days were made in big wheels and in the general stores where people bought their soap it was cut in the size the people wanted to buy it in.
The brothers in law decided to start selling soap in pre-wrapped and individually packed bars.
To do this they had to find a way to reduce their cost. What they did was replace the animal fat that was used to make soap for a long time with a mix of palm and coconut oil.
This soap floated in water and was marketed under the name “ivory” and it is still very popular and my wife uses it.
They also were owners of most of the Cottonseed mills for the reason that they used cottonseed oil in their candle making business. With the help of the German chemist Kayser they developed a hydrogenated cotton seed oil that was solid.
This solid cotton oil did not work to well in their soap, but they also realized that since more and more of America started using electricity the candle business was going down. This is basically where vegetable oil come from.
Than they realized that the hydrogenated cotton seed look a lot like the lard that was at that time used for all cooking. Why not try to sell it as lard they concluded.
This new product changed names a few times but they finally came up with the name Crisco. This is formed by using the letters in the word crystallized cottonseed oil.
The introduction of Crisco was in 1911 and most woman at that time stayed home and used butter and lard for cooking. Proctor and Gamble had to come up with what I think is one of the first large marketing campaigns. So, what did they do?
They started advertising Crisco as being healthier than butter and lard. Their two competitors.
The next thing they did was give away a cookbook that contained 615 recipes. The only thing was that all recipes were used Crisco. The also marketed it to the large Jewish population as Kosher since it did not contain any animal fat, but acted just like lard and butter.
We have to be honest and not blame Proctor and Gamble at that time for selling an unhealthy product. They probably also did not know it at that time.
Burt when it started to show that there were health problems related to the use of hydrogenated vegetable oil they should have done something and not cover it. They did this by providing all kind of reports that gave proof of the fact that animal food was to blame for all the health problems and not the vegetable oils.
The sold the Crisco part of their business in 2004 and it is now owned by Smucker.
I will not start on the health risks of hydrogenated vegetable oil and trans-fats because you can read that in the article I wrote about the facts and fiction of fats we use I wrote before.
I just hope that you will read more about it and realize that we all have been fooled by a great marketing strategy that even the American heart association convinced that animal fat was not good for us.
I can only advise you to stay away from hydrogenated fats and high fructose corn syrup that I will write another post about.