In the mid-20th century, there was a smuggling ring running between western Upper Peninsula and people in Wisconsin. It didn’t involve whisky, or gun-running, but rather a substitute for butter.
Rachel Clarke with the Michigan History Center says there was demand in Wisconsin for margarine, which was illegal in the badger state, but was still for sale in stores in Michigan.
Clarke says when margarine was invented as a cheap substitute for butter, the butter industry lobbied for rules and regulations to tax margarine and restrict its availability to consumers.
“These laws were particularly strict in Wisconsin,” Clarke said. “So people started going into Michigan from Wisconsin in the U.P and buying up oleomargarine and bringing it home.”
Listen to Stateside’s entire conversation with Rachel Clarke from the Michigan History Center, above.
This segment is produced in partnership with the Michigan History Center.