Trans fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids, also called PUFAs, found in vegetable oils, edible oils, seed oils and plant oils, are a fairly recent invention and include cottonseed, rapeseed, sunflower, safflower, rice bran, soybean, corn and other popular oils. PUFAs owe their existence to “roller mill technology,” which around 1880 replaced stone mill technology that was used to grind wheat into flour.4
Roller mill technology facilitated the entire removal of the bran and the germ of a grain, leaving only the endosperm, a refined product with its nutrients removed.5 According to Knobbe, writing on the Cure AMD Foundation website:6
“The first of these [PUFAs] was cottonseed oil. This was soon followed by the hydrogenation and partial hydrogenation of cottonseed oil, producing the first ever artificially created trans-fat. The latter was introduced by Proctor & Gamble in 1911 under the name ‘Crisco,’ which was marketed as ‘the healthier alternative to lard … and more economical than butter.'”
Crisco, the grandfather of commercially produced PUFAs or trans fats, is still widely sold today. The plan of vegetable oil producers, says Knobbe, was to undersell and therefore replace animal fats, which were priced higher.7 The plan was successful.