Bread is chewy and moist because it has a fairly high water content. Sometimes this chewiness and moisture content are enjoyable, especially when the bread is freshly baked and served with midday or evening meals. However, we want it to be toasted and crunchy with our breakfast. Toasting removes much of the water and makes it crunchy. But then we want it to be greasier and saltier, so we put butter on it. Now, butter also contains some water, but only a small percentage. Toasting the bread after it is buttered in an oven or toaster oven usually eliminates this additional water content. Now butter is very high in saturated fat (cholesterol), which has been found to increase risk of heart and circulation problems, so someone came up with the idea of using vegetable oil and salt as a substitute. This vegetable oil and salt combination only became popular after it was discovered that vegetable oil could be "partially hydrogenated" (turned into partially saturated fat), thus lowering its melting temperature to a point where it could be applied with a knife and had the same consistency as butter at the same temperature. Also, a discovery had been made that ultrasonic sound could be used on milk to keep the cream from separating and rising to the top (homogenization). Then someone got the bright idea that this new technique could also be used to make margarine even more like butter if a small amount of water were homogenized with the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and salt. This was wonderful! We now had an almost perfect substitute for butter that was cheaper and better for you. I liked it!
So, you say, where’s the problem. Well, soon after this, corporate greed made its appearance. One of the guys that worked for one of the margarine companies must have proposed to his marketing people a scheme for making much more money with very little effort. Just use less vegetable oil and more water, sell it in little tubs, and call it vegetable oil spread! People will see vegetable oil in its name and assume it contains no saturated fats (false) and it will spread really easy and we get more money for less oil and a little bit of water.
Am I the only one that notices how it makes the toast not crunchy anymore!! If you spread it on first and toast it in a toaster oven until it almost turns black you can still make it almost crunchy, but only if you can find a margarine that doesn’t list water as the first or second ingredient (really – check it out).
If you think that’s the end of the story, you’re wrong. Someone (probably in marketing) suggested using even less vegetable oil and a lot more water and calling it "Lite Spread – Fewer Calories" and selling it for even more money. That person probably got an award for the suggestion and we got soggy toast. You really can’t call it toast anymore. It’s more like library paste on top of limp bread! I hate it!
Listen, you marketing guys, here’s a real moneymaking idea. Make a margarine with very low water content and just enough hydrogenation to make it easy to spread. Then label it "Less Water More Vegetable Oil" and "PUT THE CRUNCH BACK IN YOUR TOAST". I’ll pay even more for it and everyone else will too!