So Long, Land O’ Lakes

I took my Land O’ Lakes butter out of the refrigerator and noticed something was missing. It was the picture of the nice Indian lady offering me a tub of butter for my muffins. Now, I’m not a butter connoisseur and quite frankly I’ve never really been that hip to the difference between butter and margarine or for that matter vegetable oil that had been somehow molded into an oval goo brick. For a long time I bought Country Crock. This is vegetable oil. For all I knew it could have been lard or pig gizzards, but what I did know is that when I put it on my toast it made the toast better. And the main reason I bought this, as opposed to any other brand, was because it came in really big tubs, which makes for excellent Bachelor Tupperware.

But then, one day, long ago, I came upon the nice Indian lady who was offering me actual butter. This I decided was the new way to go. And for many years I would open my fridge after having cooked my eggs and browned my bread and I would hear,


And I would respond, “Why, thank you. Yes, I will have some butter.” And as she offered it in the palm of both hands, I would take it and give her a little appreciative nod.

Apparently she’s been fired. I am not pleased. And before I go any further, I want to point out to the Land O’ Lakes company that the only reason I bought their butter was because of her. I do not want to go to the refrigerator and have yelled at me I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUTTER! I can’t help hearing Homer Simpson’s voice whenever I read that label. And I’m not keen on buying butter from other countries because I assume if they’re selling it to Americans it’s because nobody in their country wants it.

I read that the Land O’ Lakes lady was removed from the packaging because it’s immoral to coopt another culture; apparently the same holds true with your daughter dressing up as Pocahontas for Halloween because she happens to admire Pocahontas. Well, we can’t have that. In replacement, the Land O’ Lakes company said they would be replacing the Indian lady with pictures of their dairy farmers. These would be real people. I took note of the photograph they now have on the back of each tub. It’s a group-shot of eleven white people. Well done, Land O’ Lakes. Sieg Heil.  

Patrick DesJarlait, an artist of Chippewa ancestry, redid the painting for the tub in 1972 (personally I think the first one from 1921 was better, but he found some flaws and corrected them, for example, adding some floral designs of the Chippewa culture. So, I’ll defer). Clearly, though, he was pleased by her removal from the packaging, as noted by his comments of, “She was never created as a stereotype,” and “She just disappeared.” So, he seems fine. Glad they checked in with an actual Native American person for an opinion first before moving forward with the group-shot of all the white people.

I see also that Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, the Cream of Wheat chef, and Mrs. Butterworth have all met the same fate—handed a pink slip—because having them be spokespeople for any brand of goods is wrong. In the meantime Colonel Sanders, Mama Celeste, Ettore Boiardi (a.k.a Chef Boy-Ar-Dee), Papa John, and Betty Crocker carry on, because that’s okay, because they’re not representative of any culture, apparently. Also, while Quaker Oats canned Aunt Jemima, they’re okay with continuing to let jolly-faced Anglo-American William Penn in his funny hat continue selling oatmeal because, like Cap’n Crunch, Quakers aren’t actually real (also, Quaker was a derogatory term, but we’ll skip that for now). And so, thanks to the mystical event where every CEO of a food company woke up on the same recent morning suddenly endowed with the Third Eye, vowing to undo the horribleness of all previous CEO’s of their respective corporations, generations will be left with the knowledge that only white people can either start a business or be assumed to be actual people that might give you food. I don’t see the previously mentioned now-invisible-five as having been appropriately removed as much as I see them as having been assassinated for convenience by a group that gives little thought to tomorrow.

Quite frankly I think Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, the Cream of Wheat Chef, and Mrs. Butterworth—sitting on my breakfast table—did more for the improvement of interracial harmony than a lot of other people did who could actually talk. Those four never told me what was wrong with me, they just said, “Hey. I can make that better,” or, “I can show you how to make that.”

To which I would respond, “Thank you.”

So, I’m at a crossroads on the butter situation. I can’t support Land O’ Lakes any more than Kay Corleone could support Michael after him disowning Fredo and killing Talia Shire’s husband. It’s sort of the same thing. Presently I’m giving consideration to that margarine brand with the nice Amish lady with the blue bonnet.

                                                                                                                U. Allen Plum

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