August 8, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — jchatoff @ 12:08 am
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Anton Jurgens was born this day in 1805.

Chances are that you’ve never heard of Anton – I certainly hadn’t – but it seems he was the first factory-scale producer of margarine. It’s hard to find much on the net about Anton if you don’t speak Dutch or German and when you ask for a translation you get statements like this

“Antoon Jurgens belonged already fast to the richest ox ears.”

Pretty good stuff but not really helpful.  If you persist, however, you find that Anton bought the patent for margarine from the Frenchman who invented it, and got a healthy business going.  In the 20’s the Jurgens company merged with their biggest competitor and became Margarine Union Ltd.  That company merged again in the 30’s with Lever Brothers, which made soap and since both companies were using a lot of palm oil, it made  sense.  Let’s not think too much about how you can wash with palm oil and also put it on your toast.

Lever Brothers and the margarine people became Unilever and you have doubtless heard of them.  Or their products:

Becel — also known as Flora/Promise; health-aware: margarine, spreads, cooking oil, milk, fermented milk,Ben & Jerry’s — ice cream,Best Foods — mayonnaise, sandwich spreads, peanut butter and salad dressings,Bertolli — pasta sauces (ambient/chilled & frozen) and margarine, BiFi – sausage-based snacks (Germany), Bovril — beef extract,Breyers — ice cream, Colman’s — mustard,condiments and packet sauces, Continental — side dishes, Country Crock — margarine, Elmlea — Pourable artificial cream available in different varieties (UK),Findus — frozen foods (Italy, UK, Scandinavia).Flora — margarine, light butter, jams,Fruco — ketchup, mayonnaise and condiments,Fudgsicle,Gallo — olive oil,Heartbrand — ice cream (umbrella logo),Hellmann’s — mayonnaise,I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter — margarine spread,Imperial Margarine — margarine,Jif Lemon & Lime Juice,Klondike — Ice cream sandwiches,Knorr (Knorr-Suiza in Argentina) — sauces, stock cubes, ready-meals, meal kits, ready-soups, frozen food range,Lipton — tea,Lipton Ice Tea — ready-to-drink tea (partnership with PepsiCo),Lowry’s – seasoning and garlic salt,Lyons’ – tea (Ireland).Maille — French mustard,Marmite — yeast extract spread (except in Australia and New Zealand, called Our Mate),McCollins — tea (Peru),Mrs. Filbert’s — margarine (USA),Paddle pop — Ice cream (Australia, Indonesia [incorporated with Wall’s]),Pfanni — Bavarian potato mixes,Peperami — Sausage snacks,PG Tips — tea (UK),Phase — cooking oil,Planta — margarine,Popsicle — Frozen treats,Pot Noodle — cup noodles,Promise — Becel/Flora,Ragú — pasta sauces,Rama — margarine,Royal — pastas (Philippines),Rinso – detergent (only in Indonesia),Royco — stock cubes, non-MSG stock (only in Indonesia),Red Rose Tea — tea (Canada),Sana — Margarine (Turkey),Saga — tea (Poland),Skippy — peanut butter.Slim·Fast — diet products,Suave- Hair and Skin conditioning products,Sunlight Soap (Africa),Surf (Ireland, UK, Indonesia).Stork margarine.Unilever Foodsolutions — professional markets (food service),Wall’s ice cream,Wish-Bone salad dressing,and everything Cheseborough-Ponds makes and a lot more stuff it’s just too tedious to list. They make it with fewer than 200,000 employees.

All of whom are no doubt also wishing Anton Jurgens many happy returns.

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