A Canadian Trade-Mark for the History Books
In the early 20th century, steam engines were in popular use, and required oil lubricants. Some steam engines used a plant-based, golden-coloured oil called rapeseed oil. Unfortunately, rapeseed oil was not used widely for human consumption due to a bitter taste and a high toxic acid level.
In the late 1970s, Canadian oil producers genetically developed a variant of rapeseed oil which contained lower amounts of erucic acid and could be consumed safely. However, these producers were not fond of the name “rapeseed” and instead decided to coin the term CANOLA, part of which comes from Canada, and part was just a made up ending.
The Canola Council of Canada trade-marked the term CANOLA in 1978 as a certification mark (meaning that only products which met certain criteria could be called CANOLA). In 1986, the final version of this certification was amended, and covers the canola oils you and I use for cooking on an everyday basis.
Unfortunately for the Canola Council of Canada (or perhaps fortunately, for the fact that it has become so widespread), CANOLA has now become a generic term. The certification mark, however, remains registered (TMA243,139) and is a piece of Canadian history.
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