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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Olio is defined as a mixture of unlike elements, potpourri or miscellany - somewhat like our kitchen tool drawer - this as opposed to oleo, which is bit of an odd mixture in itself.

Oleo, better known as margarine, used to be known as oleomargarine, or at least the French language equivalent of this word. The product was invented by a French chemist, Hippolyte Mege-Mouries, in 1868 - the result of a contest sponsored by Napoleon III to come up with a butter substitute.

A large ingredient in this mixture was beef fat, which was once called oleo - hence the name. Other animal and vegetable fats have been used over the years to make this product. Different names for it have been used as well. Two of these would be butterine and lardine, the latter due to it's large content of lard and may or may not have been a big seller to our slightly more savvy consumers today.

This inspired me to look at the container of the margarine we have been using for years. I discovered that it is not even margarine, but a spread! It does indicate that it has one third fewer calories than margarine - but then I wonder why the word "crock" is part of this product's name.

When I was a kid, our oleo came in white form and a little packet of food coloring was included in the package. If you desired it be the color of butter - or even margarine - you had to mix the color in yourself. This is because of some kind of law favoring the dairy industry - I think.

Most of this oleo info came from casual research, which serves to give evidence to the facts that -1- I know how to be casual and -2- I know what the word research means.

Research is what you do when you can't find your keys the first time around. Much research is the next go-around when places in the house are searched that you couldn't possibly have been in the last two weeks. Extensive research is when the search extends to the entire grounds outside, under the house, in the attic, all drain pipe traps and even the oral cavities of pets and small children - leaving no stone unturned - if you are inclined to have any of those laying around – it couldn’t be lying around because most stones are truthful.

Digression seems to have taken place - more than once - so discretion tells me that I had best start regression before I get into literary transgression.

This takes us all the way back to olio. This word seems to be rather uncommon and I don't recall running into it outside the close confines of crossword puzzles. So rather than leaving it "penned" up in those more or less hallowed halls, I feel it's time to proclaim freedom and release for the word. Why shouldn't it run free and frolic in the wide expanses of the vocabulary like the other words? Olio also has the right to explore the bright lands of everyday vocal expression and to play on the tongues of kings, queens and even the common folk.

Each of us should do our part to help this word reach it's full potential. Use this word in several sentences every day and in your email or other correspondence. We could even write it in large letters and put it on the frig.

Hey - wouldn't OIio be a great name for a new baby? ec


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