These men were all sent to Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, for “crimes against butter.” (So watch what you do for #FoodMW today for #MuseumWeek!)
In 1871 after New York’s U.S. Dairy Company began production of “artificial butter”, regulation began. Dairy interests pushed Congress to pass theOleomargarine Act of 1886, which imposed a two-cent tax (per pound) on margarine and also required manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of margarine to obtain margarine licenses.
By 1902, 32 states had bans on coloring margarine yellow to make it look more like butter. These felons tried to pass the margarine off as butter; others tried to evade the tax by reusing tax stamps.
The federal margarine tax system came to an end in 1951. In 1967, Wisconsin was the last state to repeal the restrictions on margarine.