Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

How It Enriches Hot Vegetables With Its Creamy Goodness

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | August 14, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: nucoa, origin of the phrase "creamy goodness", postmodernity

I have been fascinated by the phrase "creamy goodness" for some time now.creamed corn.jpg

Not sure exactly why, and not necessarily that willing to delve that deeply into my own fetid psyche, but fascinated nonetheless.

A few minutes of research on the internets, however, brought me all the way back to February 1, 1937.

To me, the phrase has been a reference to something like "cheesy hype," and I suspected that it originated in some smarmy 1950s advertising campaign, but I've been curious as to what the actual origin of it was.

It's all over the internet in obvious things like food sites, and there's an ale called by that name. It's also in less obvious things like gamer sites and porn sites, and there are number of users on Facebook and other social sites who use the phrase as their handle.

But in every reference, the usage is an ironic one that gives a delicious frisson of post-modernity, particularly since there seems to be no original. But there is an original, and I'm going to tell you where. It all starts, appropriately enough, with Farm Queen.

The phrase "creamy goodness" is strongly connected to the concepts of false advertising and modernist utilitarian horribleness. In the post-modern era, we've come to understand that mass production means lowest possible quality and highest possible hype. Pretty much everything we encounter is a poor reproduction, and the original either never existed, or hasn't existed for a long, long, long time.

"Creamy goodness" was originally used in relation to butter substitutes in the days before there were any laws against false advertising. While margarine was originally invented in the mid-1800s, specifically intended for the lower classes, it had little commercial success, probably because it tasted awful. But some people ate it. In the 1930s, with the deepening Great Depression, butter was expensive and rare in many places, particularly since the powerful dairy lobby supported legislation keeping prices up and dampening competition.

In keeping with the emerging twentieth century's false claims to be racing towards a utopian future via rapidly proliferating technologies that were increasingly destructive of human life and culture, the oleomargarine industry began to make inroads into the market, and overtook butter in popularity in the mid-20th century. It was a horrible, fatty, tasteless large white block intended to allow people to add something like butter to their cooking and to choke down their bread. It really didn't taste much like butter, but it was similar in fat content, so some people used it and it gained some market share. Margarine manufacturers claimed, of course, that their fat lumps tasted just like butter, but everyone knew better.

Here's an advertisement from LIFE Magazine, Feb 1, 1937.
(page 69)creamy goodness.jpg

The phrase is in the left hand column, fifth paragraph down. If you click on the picture above, you'll be able to see the origin of the phrase "creamy goodness."

It wasn't until the 1950s that laws were in place to stop people from pushing homogenized creosote as derived from cream. Here's a note from Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Sept. 1955, entitled "Margarine Doesn't Come From Cows" (page 36):

And here's how the FTC saw it:


Petitioner, E. F. Drew & Co., Inc., seeks review of an order of the Federal Trade Commission directing it to cease and desist from using certain phrases in the advertising of its oleomargarine. Although petitioner questions the conclusions arrived at by the Commission, there is no dispute as to the following facts: Petitioner, a Delaware corporation having its principal place of business in New York, sells and distributes oleomargarine under the name 'Farm Queen' to dairies and milk dealers in several states. In order to aid these milk dealers in the sale of its margarine to consumers, petitioner distributes in the mails and in interstate commerce a variety of circulars, letters, and other advertisements. These advertisements of petitioner's oleomargarine contained, until discontinued by petitioner, the expressions 'churned to delicate, sweet creamy goodness,' 'country fresh,' and 'the same day-to-day freshness which characterizes our other dairy products.' The complaint alleged that these and expressions of similar import were 'misleading in material respects and constitute false advertisements, as such term is defined in Section 15 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.' The hearing examiner found that the statements 'churned to delicate, sweet creamy goodness' and 'the same day-to-day freshness which characterizes our other dairy products' were representations that petitioner's oleomargarine is a dairy product. The Commission...issued its order to cease and desist.

So when you hear the phrase "creamy goodness," think post-modern ironic reference.

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As a result, many states and countries have had a history of shaming the margarine industry. My home state of Missouri, for example, to this day still makes it a crime to purchase or possess margarine. It hasn't been enforced in decades, if not a century, but it's on the books:


Marja Erwin | August 14, 2010 12:52 PM

I, for one, grew up allergic to butter and dairy in general. It still tastes off to me, and nauseating if there is too much. It bothers me how hard it can be to get any food if one has any dietary restrictions (such as no dairy, no wheat, no corn syrup, minimal potassium, or others).

gregorybrown | August 15, 2010 1:30 PM

Missouri lawmakers continue along their righteous path. A law effective in 2 weeks prohibits the sale, possession or use of inhalants aka "poppers" of any formulation. Prohibiting them for minors would serve a legitimate purpose, but adults should be able to choose how they want to injure themselves with substances that have less far-reaching effects personally and socially than alcohol or tobacco.

This is such a chaste discussion.

Let's just put it this way... 'creamy goodness' is a catch phrase for the same reason shampoo and ivory liquid look the way they do. And yes, I mean that in the crassest possible sense.

Margarine was then touted as more "healthy" than butter in the 1950s. (With fewer calories for the diet conscious, too.)

I grew up in the 1950s, and always hated the stuff, which was inescapable then. (Even in some restaurants!)

Of course, later testing proved the stuff to be worse for you than butter, which also tastes better.

So deprived of one lie, the margarine industry touted another.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | August 14, 2010 5:20 PM

Interesting that you should raise the butter vs. margarine issue; coincidentally when I picked up a Kroger-brand product labelled "Butter It's Not" (no doubt derived from "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter") I recalled something from the post-WWII era where margarine couldn't be sold in Indiana if it were yellow. It had to come without coloration and one had to take little packets of yellow food coloring and knead the whole mess into something that looked a bit more than the real thing. That was the case in Indiana and I suspect other states where the dairy industry held a strong sway. Does anybody else recall that?

Of course, if they imposed that law nowadays, the margarine industry would just make the thing green or red. The kids love colors.

... or the processed foods lobby would just get it repealed by bribing the state legislature, using both legal and illegal methods ...

And, yeah, Alex, speaking of oddly-colored foods, what ever happened to the green ketchup that was supposed to be the coming teen-age rage?

In the link I posted above, you'll note that a few states went that far, forcing margarine to be dyed pink so that consumers would know the difference. The backhanded jab of that move is that bad milk can often be naturally tainted pink, so it was very intentional.

I remember well after WW2 of bringing margerine home and putting it the fridge and then having to set it out to soften it so I could break the little packet of yellow food coloring in it and then squishing the color around until the entire package was yellow (one did not want any white showing) and then putting it back in the fridge to harden.

Butter was so expensive, I don't recall the price but I thnk it was around a dollar a pound and when one was only making about 35 or 40 cents and hour butter was an expensive luxury only for special occasions.

gregorybrown | August 15, 2010 1:23 PM

Iowa had laws through the Fifties that prohibited sales of yellow margarine. Also, I recall hearing that there was an active cross-border trade moving margarine into Minnesota, which taxed it to protect the state's dairy industry.

Now that we know more than we ever wanted to about margarine ... what is the God-awful-looking crap in the photo? ... Looks like canned cream corn with little shavings of parafin wax mixed in ...

Now that was a fascinating bit of history. I've never even heard of Nucoa!

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | August 16, 2010 10:54 AM

Not to worry excessively, Bil. Don't take it personally, but I suspect Nucoa never heard of Bilerico or you either!