As you wander through the aisles of your friendly neighborhood supermarket, every so often you seem to across some sort of sign touting some food-related holiday you’ve never heard of, much less celebrated. For example, March is Frozen Food month (Just in time to provide relief when you get sick of Canned Food Month in February,) May is National Beef Month and National Egg Month (just in case you need an excuse to have the Steak and Eggs,) and National Pork Month falls in October, as does National Seafood Month. Within the next few days the calendar will be moving over from May to June, which has since 1939 been celebrated as National Dairy Month by the National Dairy Council. Although the month originally intended to help boost sales and consumption of milk and other dairy products during the late Spring and early Summer when grass was most plentiful and cows were able to produce more milk as a result, the modern feeds available for dairy cows tend to make this effect far less pronounced today. Even so, National Dairy Month continues to be recognized and celebrated, mostly in the form of Dairy Festivals and other celebrations in Wisconsin and other dairy producing states.
For most of us though, the opportunity to celebrate the wonders of bovine mammary secretions in style will be sadly lacking. Around here, it seems that the most we ever see of National Dairy Month is a handful of scattered TV Commercials and some promotional materials in the stores, as seen above. Of course, on seeing some of the other posters (or whatever it is that you’re supposed to call the things you stick on the floor because you’ve crammed the shelves with too much stuff to have anywhere to put it) being used here, one begins to get the sneaking suspicion that there seems to be a bit of scope creep going on here.
Take these, for example. Technically I guess you could put these in here because butter is a major ingredient in the traditional Toll House cookie recipe (although with the prepackaged stuff like this, who knows what sort of ungodly artificial substitute they might be using in the stuff.) There’s also the whole “milk and cookies” thing that’s been going around pretty much forever. I guess I can go ahead and give them this one.
This, on the other hand, is really pushing it…
…And this one I can’t think of any possible excuse for. At least in the case of the Coffee Mate you can kind of make some sort of justification based on the fact that Sodium Caseinate (one of the major ingredients in non-dairy creamers) is derived from milk and thus has at least some connection to actual dairy products (flimsy though it may be.) Margarine, on the other hand, is to a large extent considered an enemy to dairy, and has been for practically as long as it has existed. Over the years, a number of punitive legislative measures have been enacted ranging from bans on added color in margarine products (at least one of which remains in effect today in the state of Missouri) to excise taxes or even outright bans of the product altogether. As a result, the illicit sale of bootleg margarine was commonplace, both here in the US and in Canada. In fact, the Canadian Government banned margarine entirely between 1886 until 1948 (aside from a period between 1917 and 1923 when dairy shortages forced a temporary lifting of the ban.) The Wikipedia article on margarine provides a good summary of the various efforts to legislate margarine out of existence, mostly at the behest of the dairy industry. Needless to say, if you are familiar with the long sordid history involved here, it seems rather odd to see promotional materials for National Dairy Month being used as an advertisement for margarine. In fact, of the four posters being shown here, only one of them contains anything that could be unambiguously considered to be a dairy product. I suppose they could always rename the whole thing to “National Dairy and anything that bears a vague resemblance or might in some way be associated with it Month,” but that might be a bit tough to fit on the poster, don’t you think?