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How Crisco Vegetable Oil Demonized Lard and Butter


If you’re like me, you used to regularly cook with Crisco vegetable oil. Sad, but true. We just didn’t know better. Now that I know, it’s not easy to say nothing when it comes up…

Last week on my Facebook page I shared what happened at the grocery store recently:

Ohhh the poor guy I just ran into at the store… He obviously couldn’t find something and I offered to help. Guess what he was looking for? CRISCO! I said, “Really?!! Well it’s right over there, but why not just use butter? It’s so much better for you, that vegetable oil will kill ya you know, or have you seen this palm oil shortening?” He sheepishly said, “I’m just getting what my wife put on the list…” Obviously he wanted to say, “Get off my back, lady.” Ha!

Read the whole discussion on Facebook. Someone there linked to the following article and I thought you might like to read an excerpt…

The Rise and Fall of Crisco:

Crisco imageCrisco was introduced to the public in 1911. It was an era when wives stayed home and cooked with plenty of butter and lard. The challenge for Crisco was to convince the stay-at-home housewife about the merits of this imitation food. P&G’s first ad campaign introduced the all-vegetable shortening as “a healthier alternative to cooking with animal fats. . . and more economical than butter.” With one sentence, P&G had taken on its two closest competitors—lard and butter.”

I remember switching from lard to Crisco to make pie crust when I was a teenager. We always used lard from the farm, but sometime in the 1960s, Mom innocently brought home our first can of Crisco. We started to use it liberally. That was the overt addition to the diet. What we didn’t know was that Crisco and its cousins were being covertly added to countless food items. We also didn’t know that the partially hydrogenated oils in Crisco—the trans fatty acids—were bad for us. In fairness to P&G, they didn’t know this either, not at first. But when reports of problems began to appear—problems like increased heart disease, increased cancer, growth problems, learning disorders and infertility—P&G worked behind the scenes to cover them up.4 One scientist who worked for P&G, Dr. Fred Mattson, can be credited with presenting the US government’s inconclusive Lipid Research Clinics Trials to the public as proof that animal fats caused heart disease. He was also one of the baleful influences that persuaded the American Heart Association to preach the phony gospel of the Lipid Hypothesis. The truth about the dangers of trans fatty acids in foods like Crisco is finally emerging. Perhaps that is why P&G decided to put their flagship product up for sale.

Did you used to cook with Crisco, too? What finally got you to switch to something healthier?



  1. I, too, cooked with Crisco, a lot. When my grandson was born, it took us many years to finally figure out that he had food sensitivities. Only when he was staying at my house for a few days did I realize that certain foods made him “crazy”. His whole personality changed. We suspected sugar as the culprit, but ran our own tests by subtracting certain foods and adding them back. Sugar was not the culprit, but dyes and preservatives made a huge difference in his behavior. His mother was urged by teachers to put him on Ritalin. She refused, and instead, put him on the Feingold diet. His behavior greatly improved. Then, back to Grandma’s. I cooked from scratch and made his beloved biscuits. His behavior reverted back to bad behavior. Finally, we figured out the culprit. Crisco and TBHQ! I immediately switched to palm oil for him but continued using Crisco for the rest of the family. Made by P&G, it was safe, right? Not until this Grandma, (me), started deeply exploring the invasion into our food of the “bad” stuff and the way food companies had duped us for years did I begin to change. We no longer use anything from a box or any prepared food off the shelf. For years, I ate Lean Cuisines to lose weight, only to find out that my problems may have been exaserbated by the additives in the weight loss foods. We are strictly whole food, non Crisco eating people now. I am just sorry that I fed that to my kids all of these years. I am so distrustful of food companies now, that I grow what I can and am careful of what I buy. It is so sad what we are doing to our kids. Even sadder, are the looks we get from people when we decline a sucker or other handouts for our grandson. Looks of pity. How sad that they are the ones to be pitied.

  2. “All vegetable, digestible Crisco.” my Grandmother was an early user of the stuff, my Mom never ate lard or butter. It was the “digestible” line that got her hooked. Man, we used that stuff for EVERYTHING from cooking to makeup removal to greasing squeaky hinges. Even last year despite all my preaching and teaching, there were Crisco “butter sticks” in her pantry. It’s amazing how the drive to be “modern” was so alluring through the early 20th century.

  3. I remember using Crisco in Home Ec class in the late 60s and 70s but we never used it at home and I have never bought it. My stomach gets really queasy from thick, oily substances so it turned me off. Coconut oil however, doesn’t do that too me. Now that’s all I use — healthy and delicious.

  4. Our government and big business was working hard to corrupt our foods even back in the early 1900’s…
    Parve margarine, a key ingredient in kosher baked goods, has its roots in Crisco, so named for “crystallized cottonseed oil.” In the late 1800’s, William Procter and James Gamble sought an inexpensive fat for their candle- and soap-making businesses. By 1905 they owned eight cottonseed mills, and the knowledge to convert liquid cottonseed oil to a solid. With the candle market shrinking, they made a startling decision, in retrospect, to market Crisco as a food. Cheap and with an unnaturally long shelf life, it was soon being sold for home and commercial use.

    Read more:

  5. My mother wasn’t a baker when I was growing up, so as an adult, neither am I particularly. We never had Crisco in our house. BUT!! My mother always had margarine. She says she feels so guilty now because she said the push of margarine was so huge that she really thought she was making the best choice for our health. Then when I married I too carried on the margarine habit. I haven’t touched any now in more than 6 years, but when I think that the first 40 years of my life were spent using margarine I want to throw up!! Hopefully all the butter I eat now is doing some real healing!

    • Very similar story. I too now feel like throwing up when I think how excited I used to get over “a good deal” on margarine or other such products. My children and I were standing in line and something junkie was cheap and on sale. They were excited. I posed the question “What does that tell you? It is that cheap and yet they would not do it if they were not still making a profit on it.” Their reply, “The quality is not good, but it would still taste good!” I had a few surprised glances over this conversation with them. Ah, homeschooling is great for these opportunities!

  6. You know, I never really did. I always recognized (even as a kid) that margarine and Crisco just weren’t even really food (long before the word trans-fat was ever invented); I am very old.

  7. Thankfully, when I was growing up, my parents were too poor to buy much of anything at the grocery store. We had a few canned foods, some boxed cereal, oatmeal, white flour and sugar, but that was about it. Otherwise, if we didn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it. So I thankfully grew up on homemade raw butter, raw milk, lard, beef, pork, and home-canned veggies. My mom didn’t know to stay away from sugars or how to prepare anything in a TF manner, but most of what we ate, we did grow ourselves. What a blessing!

  8. I cooked with Crisco years ago. I switched to butter in the late 80’s and in the 90’s my Naturopath told me to use lard as well. I have found the perfect use for Crisco so I have bought several cans. Stick a candle wick down in it….it will burn for days. At $4.50 a can it is a pretty inexpensive candle in case of a power outage lol. I love my Naturopath who told me I could eat eggs and bacon. Our brains are mostly fat…hello. I do not touch anything low fat or artificial sugar.

  9. My 83 year old Mom was confused about Crisco the last time I talked with her about it … she thought Crisco WAS lard! Makes me wonder what kind of ads they were running in the fifties. My Grandma used Crisco later in life as I remember … I think she most likely adopted it’s use in the the 50’s too. They really did a number convincing everyone that Crisco was modern and therefore an improvement.

  10. I know Crisco shortening is not healthy…but I still prefer pie crust made with Crisco. I have tried other methods, but my pies consistently turn out well when I use Crisco. Since I bake 4 to 6 pies per year I will continue to risk it. My mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe used Crisco as well. I think the recipe was from the Baker’s chocolate chip package. I don’t use it in my cookie recipe…and my cookies just aren’t the same

      • I will check out Palm shortening. I am also going to give lard a try. My mother never used lard. She grew up on a small farm and I think using the “modern” products of the fifties was one way that she could put her farm days behind her. Living in a poor family and being the oldest of 10 siblings did not really instill a love of cooking and serving food. “Modern” and “convenient” was what she was looking for. My siblings often like to characterize it as “putting food through the de-flavorizer.

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