Dairy is serious business in Wisconsin. Dairy products involve jobs and state pride. Since 1895, Wisconsin has clamped down on one of the evils of modern society -- margarine.
The 1895 law was especially harsh in prohibiting margarine. In 1910, one man was imprisoned for 18 months for violating it. For the last 44 years, a more lenient version of the law has existed. Violating the newer law only results in a $500 fine. It prohibits the replacement of butter with margarine at public places unless the customer requests it. At state-run facilities, like prisons, butter must be used unless the health of the inmate dictates margarine.
A first-term lawmaker, Dale Kooyenga, intends to end the war on margarine. He and eleven other lawmakers have sponsored a bill to repeal the anti-margarine legislation. Kooyenga referred to the ban as "silly, antiquated and anti-free market."
Being that this is Wisconsin, the dairy industry is not rolling over. Brad Legreid, executive director of the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, announced that they will fight the lifting of the ban.
"There's some things that are very important in the state," Legreid said.
Butter, it seems, is as important as the First Amendment to some Wisconsinites.
How could a well-intentioned Wisconsin official like Kooyenga turn against the wonders of butter? This would be like a Floridian eschewing oranges or a Texan chili. The answer is that there is something sinister in all this. Kooyenga is not a native to Wisconsin. He was born in Illinois.