In 2001, American consumed an average of 4.9 pounds of butter per person almost five four-stick packs.
Butter, one of the most traditional of women’s crafts, began the nineteenth century as a product hand-churned by women and ended the century as the factory-made product of a commercial marketplace.
For much of the century, and especially in rural communities, butter remained an important part of a women’s economy – produced from surplus milk and sold or exchanged at a local marketplace for other necessary family goods.
Around 1850, farm families began to sell their cream to larger, centralized creameries, rather than making butter in their home dairies. From about 1859 on, there has been a constant increase in factory butter production, and this was included in the census of manufactures for the first time in 1879.
This increase in factory butter output has been accompanied by a decline in farm butter production. The industrialization of butter production truly took off in the last decade of the nineteenth century, promoted by the invention of the mechanical cream separator.
Factory production of butter rose from 29 million pounds in 1879 to 627 million in 1909 to over 1 billion in 1921.
Butter production in American history
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