Eleven Wisconsin Republican state legislators and a Democrat want to repeal the law that prevents restaurants, prisons and schools from substituting margarine for butter unless a customer requests it.
MILWAUKEE — Eleven Wisconsin Republican state legislators and a Democrat have decided a decades-old state law has spread itself too thin.
So they’re co-sponsoring a bill to repeal the law that makes it a crime for restaurants, prisons and schools to substitute margarine for butter unless a customer requests it.
Republican Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, calls the bill prohibiting margarine substitution for butter “silly, antiquated and anti-free market.”
The state could save money by giving prison inmates margarine instead of butter because butter is three times more expensive, the freshman legislator said Monday.
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Wisconsin banned margarine that’s colored to imitate butter in 1895, prompting an era of margarine smuggling that sent Wisconsinites across state lines. Newspaper photographs from the 1960s show housewives packing boxes of colored margarine into car trunks, often at liquor stores that were part of the oleo black market. Colored margarine not only couldn’t be sold in Wisconsin, it also was illegal to use it.
That law was repealed in 1967. Breaking the butter law technically carries a $100 to $500 fine and a jail sentence of up to three months. Subsequent offenses carry a possible fine of $500 to $1,000, or a jail sentence of six month to a year.
Wisconsin ranks No. 2 nationwide for butter production, behind California.