Life In The 50’s: Is Butter A Carb?


Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site.  Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.

Hey there folks, it’s Retro Dee, here to answer the perpetual question:

“Is butter a carb?”

I tweeted this question one day as a joke, and I got at least 3 people answering with things like: “No, it’s a fatty acid.”

And I was like, “I guess there aren’t a lot of Mean Girls fans out there!”

In case you don’t know, this question was famously asked by Regina George, a superficial, body-conscious teen in the 2004 comedy, Mean Girls.

 

reginabutter
Mean Girls, 2004

 

While butter might not be a carb, it was, believe it or not, its very own food group in the 1940’s and 50’s.

Now, I hate to poke fun at the 1950’s– it was the Best Era Ever, but let’s face it. Some of the stuff from back then can be quite humorous! I mean, butter, a food group?

Let’s have a look at the famous chart below, written during WWII:

oldchart2
1940’s-50’s Food Groups Chart

And there it is: Group Seven: “Butter and Fortified Margarine”

In the 1950’s they had not 5, not 6, but seven basic food groups and butter was one of them.

Um, what?! Butter is an ingredient, and sometimes a condiment. But how can it classify as a food group? What kind of logic is that?

Let’s back up and have look at the other six groups.

Group One: “Green and Yellow Vegetables”. Okay, that’s not so odd. Vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet and the green ones are notoriously healthy.

Group Two: “Oranges, Tomatoes and Grapefruit”. Oranges and grapefruit share the commonality of being citrus. But why tomatoes? Did they group according to what could give you the worst acid reflux?

And how about the fact that Group Three specifies: “Potatoes, and Other Vegetables and Fruits”. You got that? Potatoes, specifically, and then all the other vegetables and fruits BESIDES oranges, grapefruit and tomatoes, because they’re already in group two.

Group Four: “Milk and Milk Products”. I guess that would be what we’d today call “Dairy”.

Group Five: “Meat, Poultry, Fish or Eggs”. Protein. Okay, I suppose that works.

Group Six: “Bread, Flour and Cereals”… In other words, grains. So once we get past Group Three, they were doing beautifully, until we get back to the infamous Group Seven.

I can’t be the only one who finds this hilarious. Then again, it doesn’t take much to entertain me. The only thing I can think of, is that they were trying to market butter and margarine and making it part of the Basic Seven Food Groups would be an easy sell.

Then there’s what’s perhaps the most amusing part of all, at the bottom of the chart where it says: “In addition to the Basic 7… eat any other foods you want.”

ANY other foods? Does that mean candy or what? 😀

Well, okay. In all fairness, maybe they didn’t know as much about nutrition in those days, but at least their food was natural and full of the vitamins that today’s soil is depleted of. At least you could always depend on a good, healthy home-cooked meal… I think that’s just as important as knowing what to eat. In the 1950’s, food was actually food, and not a GMO shadow of its former nutritional self.

So does this mean that the hot dogs and hamburgers back then were healthy? Probably not, but I bet they sure were good.

 

food50slike

 

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