I know a couple of people who seem to adore margarine. Maybe not as much as butter, but they are happy as clams to shmeer their bread with it at fleishik meals and eat desserts made primarily with margarine.
All I can say is ugh.
I cannot force myself to think of margarine, particularly the pareve kind (which is all we buy), as anything less than an abomination. Perhaps the dairy margarines have some redeeming whey flavour, but the pareve ones are just cloying, cloying, like in the Ugly Blueberry Cake I baked before Sukkos. It was otherwise delicious, an absolutely out-of-this-world cake (if a little on the potchkedik side), but almost inedible - to me - due to its predominantly margarine aftertaste. I certainly plan to revisit the recipe at some point when I'm looking for a special dairy dessert... but in the meantime, well, feh.
I used to use Butter-flavoured Crisco, and found it not as terrible as margarine. But a few years back, they switched its production around so that it is no longer pareve. Which, to me, means there is no point. I mean, if I'm baking with a dairy fat product, my fat product of choice is always going to be butter.
The weird-kosher-brand margarines are worse, I suspect, though I have never sat down and done a taste test. The only real plus is that they are sold in stick form, rather than tub, so theoretically, they're better for baking. I have heard from others, though, that the taste utterly eliminates any possible advantage the format could convey.
I've heard of people using solid oils like palm or coconut in baking. My fear is that those would convey unpleasant, or at least, unfamiliar flavours. I really, really need my chocolate-chip cookies to taste the way I expect them to.
Why am I on about this right now?
One, I just sent Ted to the grocery store to see if he can pick up a package of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, which I have read online are less horrible than the margarine equivalent. We'll see how it works out - both whether he finds it, and whether it works out in baking today's ginger cookies (from a mix) (we love these cookies!).
My other reason was:
Two, I foolishly ran out of canola oil (I swear, I thought there was more downstairs in the potato room!), so had to substitute about 5 Tbsp of Fleishmann's pareve (blue-tub) margarine in the challah recipe I'm trying out. Drat! But I figured 5 Tbsp with over 7 cups of flour will probably not be as detectable as it would be in cookies or in a cake.
Surely there is some way of creating a perfect pareve margarine that tastes great, bakes well, spreads great (well, I doubt I'd use it for spreading in any event). And it wouldn't be an entirely altruistic invention, either: there are probably millions of kosher, allergic, vegan and other consumers who'd be drooling for baked goods made with this wonderful substance.
You couldn't call it margarine, of course: that has been too stigmatized by the horrid ones that are out already. No, call it something new and exciting like Stick-Ola or Parev-ette. Oy. Well, I'll be the concept partner... someone else can actually invent it, plus handle the marketing end. Anyone want to go into business?