The return of Stork margarine

Many things were in short supply in World War II, including butter and quality margarines. During wartime rationing, only two types of margarine were available in the UK, a premium brand costing 9d a pound, and a cheaper budget brand costing 5d. These were the two types of "National Margarine" commissioned by the Ministry of Food. Both came as blocks wrapped in waxed paper. Even the premium brand dubbed "Special'" deteriorated as the better quality ingredients it required became harder to secure, and lower level ingredients had to be used owing to wartime shortages.

Both were somewhat unappetizing blocks of grease, good for cooking, perhaps, rather than spreading. The "Radio Doctor," Dr Charles Hill told us that “special” margarine "contained hard and soft vegetable oils and marine oils in proportions which were frequently varied according to the supply and the time of year, as well as milk, salt, flavouring and vitamin." That may have been so, but I still grimace when I remember the taste.

I remember the return of Stork, trumpeted in advance by mass advertising. "Stork is back," was proclaimed in newspapers. "What was it?" I asked. I was told that Stork was a "premium" brand of margarine first produced in 1920. When rationing finally ended in 1954, the product was relaunched, with most people regarding it as a luxury after the years of "National Margarine." When commercial television came to the UK in 1955, Stork took adverts on ITV to boost its popularity and sales.

Although Stork had a good brand image promoted by massive advertising, I never really rated it. It was something you used when you were poor. I used it for making pastry and for cooking when I was an impoverished student, but I've not used it since.