Story #1: Lodewijk, Lieske and Butter

In 1877, Western Europe is flourishing. It’s the age of invention, mobility and industrialization. New products are arriving every day, including… margarine. But margarine, made from vegetables, is an ugly greenish color.

Actually, so is winter butter. In the summer, butter is yellow thanks to the plants the cows eat outside. But in the winter, the cows are in the barn, and the butter is pale white.

Lodewijk van der Grinten is an enterprising pharmacist in Venlo. Using annatto seeds imported from South America, he develops an edible yellow coloring that gives margarine and winter butter the attractive yellow color of summer butter. It’s a hit!

Lodewijk plans to sell his discovery to a manufacturer. But his wife Lieske is business savvy. She advises him to keep the recipe a secret and make the coloring himself. He does! It’s a brilliant business move, resulting in a steady flow of income for decades.

Lodewijk starts manufacturing in 1877. The business grows and his family prospers.

1877 1970
Production butter coloring