Beef Tallow

The tendency to use beef bait in our foods

Mass adoption of electric lighting in the 1900s is, surprisingly, the reason consumers first switched from cooking with animal fats to cooking with vegetable oils.

At that time, Proctor & Gamble was largely in the business of making candles and candle demand was falling as electric lighting took off. P&G’s massive infrastructure for processing cottonseed oil, the key ingredient in their candles, was in danger of becoming obsolete so they started using the same material to produce shortening, turning into the massively popular cooking product Crisco in 1911.

Interest in beef tallow

Consumers were initially hesitant to switch from their seemingly healthy and natural lard to what they saw as processed candle wax, but P&G pushed hard to convince the world that Crisco was superior. To do so, they sent samples to food scientists and hospitals then later advertised the fact that hospitals and schools used it. They also embarked on a massive campaign to put out cookbooks with recipes that called for Crisco.

More recently, it’s becoming popular again to cook with animal fats like beef tallow. Aside from the supposed health benefits of tallow, demand for butter alternatives is on the rise. As more consumers buy food online, there’s a clear advantage to tallow–which has a long shelf life without the need for refrigeration, helping it fit into the standard ecommerce supply chain better than food like butter.

Interest in beef tallow regained momentum when factory farms attempted to figure out how to repackage their byproducts into something they could sell. Some brands, like Ancestral Supplements, lean directly into the saying that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”. The company has a unique business: taking the parts of agricultural farm animals that are usually discarded, and selling them for a premium as ”Grass Fed Beef Brain Supplements”. Their top products, including Beef Organs and Beef Liver, each have several thousand reviews on Amazon.