Gross or great? Fancy butter boards soar as shortage looms

Oct 21, 2022, 8:09 AM | Updated: 8:17 am
A  cream cheese board, left, and a butter board. Butter boards, the polarizing stepchild of charcut...

A cream cheese board, left, and a butter board. Butter boards, the polarizing stepchild of charcuterie, have taken TikTok to new food-craze heights. (Valerie Allen via AP)

(Valerie Allen via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Legit gross or crazy delicious?

Butter boards, the polarizing stepchild of charcuterie, have taken TikTok to new food-craze heights as some horrified safety and nutrition experts look on. And now, heading into the holidays, the boards are landing on tables as quick, inexpensive alternatives to the meat- and fancy cheese-laden OG despite a winter butter shortage projected for the U.S. that could drive up prices and make it more difficult to find in supermarkets.

“I wish they’d just go away. The idea of smearing something on a wood board with other food, sharing that with other people and having them all dip into it. It’s a bacteria heaven,” said Laura Cipullo, a registered dietitian in New York City.

Justine Doiron, who creates food content as @justine-snacks on TikTok and Instagram, got the butter board party started on Sept. 15. She is credited with coining the term in a video that has her spreading it with abandon on a cutting board and topping it with, among many other things, edible flowers.

She got the idea — jazzed up butter on wood — from chef Joshua McFadden’s 2017 cookbook with Martha Holmberg, “Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables.”

“I think the draw is that it’s super customizable,” Doiron told The Associated Press. “You can be so creative with it, and people are always looking for something they’ve never seen before. It’s a low effort way to have some fun with food.”

Side note: She has a plant named Butter.

Doiron went viral with her busy butter board and hand swipes with thick, crusty slices of bread. Copycat videos under the #butterboard hashtag have since racked up more than 240 million views on TikTok. Searches related to the topic have reached 10 billion on the platform, with decorated mountains of butter also going strong on Instagram.

And the boards themselves have spawned sweet sister versions, vegan cousins and ice cream aunts and uncles.

Magnolia Bakery posted a video of buttercream frosting being spread artfully on a cake stand with pieces of cookie, brownies, rainbow sprinkles and other goodies for swiping. Toothpicks were involved, as opposed to all hands in. Ben & Jerry’s filmed a frozen version.

Private chefs are fielding lots of requests from clients now looking for spreadables on boards. Kevin Hart’s Los Angeles chef, Kai Chase, said she created several of the boards for him as a splurge.

While some eateries have been smearing butter on boards for years, Magnolia, for one, has no plans to sell boards of its own. As for the notion of promoting sugar overload, Magnolia’s CEO and chief baking officer, Bobbie Lloyd, said: “We believe that moderation is the key to a sweet, balanced life.”

Doiron has some butter board regrets, food handling wise, though she’s reluctant to put the “yuck in anybody’s yum.”

“I prefer a knife. The big mistake in my video was swiping it because I only had 28 seconds. But I think just like a charcuterie board, serve it with a knife, let people serve themselves. But it’s really up to personal preference,” she said.

Suzie Cornell in Boca Raton, Florida, brought along a lox and cream cheese board to break the Yom Kippur fast in early October when her family got together with a small group of friends. Assembling food on a board (in her case, stone) appeals for a simple reason: “I don’t cook. I mean, literally, I don’t cook.”

Cornell tossed out the communal swipe situation and went for cutlery because the hand-swiping grosses her out.

In Salina, Ohio, Emily Westerfield has a small catering company that specializes in boards and bites. Boards smeared with spreads and toppings are on the tongues of many clients these days.

“I’m getting requests like crazy. A friend who’s hosting her book club asked for a cream cheese board since they meet in the morning,” she said.

Darin Detwiler, an assistant teaching professor of food policy at Northeastern University and an expert on food industry regulation, sees the potential for pathogens everywhere when it comes to butter boards. Wood boards crack and those cracks can’t adequately be cleaned, he said.

Detwiler went into his field after losing his 16-month-old son in the 1993 E.coli outbreak tied to contaminated beef at Jack in the Box restaurants. More than 700 people fell ill in four states and three other children died as well.

“Personally, I would use a plastic board, something that can be sanitized in a dishwasher,” he said. “The second hidden danger is the idea of so many hands in a butter board. People think big. People don’t think about doing small butter boards. They’re thinking about doing these big beautiful displays. If any of those hands aren’t washed, you’re just inviting opportunity.”

Paul Zahn, an entertaining expert in Los Angeles, has a workaround for that: “jarcuterie.”

“Make individual jars or boards for guests,” he said. “That way people keep their germs to themselves and you’re giving them portion control.”

Some decry the fatty nature of butter in general and the almighty devil, bad cholesterol. Moderation would help there, too. Less fraught spreadables are also being used, including hummus.

“It’s kind of a silly trend in a way,” said Lori Shemek, a nutritionist in Dallas. “I saw one comedian who said, ‘Oh, butter boards. That’s like butter on bread.'”

___

Follow Leanne Italie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/litalie

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              This October 2022 photo shows a cream cheese board. Butter boards, the polarizing stepchild of charcuterie, have taken TikTok to new food-craze heights. (Valerie Allen via AP)
            
              A  cream cheese board, left, and a butter board. Butter boards, the polarizing stepchild of charcuterie, have taken TikTok to new food-craze heights. (Valerie Allen via AP)
            This October 2022 photo shows a Magnolia Bakery buttercream frosting board made by the company. Butter boards have become the polarizing stepchild of charcuterie boards. (Magnolia Bakery via AP) This October 2022 photo shows a butter board made by Leslie Hobbs in Seattle, Wash. Butter boards have become the polarizing stepchild of charcuterie boards. (Leslie Hobbs via AP) This October 2022 photo shows a cream cheese and smoked salmon board created by Suzie Cornell in Boca Raton, Fla. Butter boards have become the polarizing stepchild of charcuterie boards. (Suzie Cornell via AP)

AP

FILE - Netherland's Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden during a ...
Associated Press

China accuses Washington of abusing export controls

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government on Monday criticized U.S. controls on technology exports as a trade violation, after Japan and the Netherlands agreed to join Washington in limiting Beijing’s access to materials to make advanced processor chips they say can be used in weapons. The Foreign Ministry didn’t mention the latest development but accused Washington […]
5 hours ago
FILE - An Amtrak train emerges from the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel in Baltimore,  Sept. 15, 2015....
Associated Press

Biden visit to Baltimore highlights rail tunnel project

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ulysses S. Grant was still president when workers finished the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, which connected Philadelphia and Washington through rail travel for the first time. But 150 years later, the tunnel that runs under some of Baltimore’s residential neighborhoods is more of a chokepoint than a lifeline. There’s only one track, […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

WHO: COVID still an emergency but nearing ‘inflection’ point

GENEVA (AP) — The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Monday, after a key advisory panel found the pandemic may be nearing an “inflexion point” where higher levels of immunity can lower virus-related deaths. Speaking at the opening of WHO’s annual executive board meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus […]
5 hours ago
FILE - Protestors march during a demonstration against pension changes, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 in ...
Associated Press

France braces for major transport woes from pension strikes

PARIS (AP) — France’s national rail operator is recommending that passengers stay home Tuesday to avoid strikes over pensions that are expected to cause major transport woes but largely spare high-speed links to Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Labor unions that mobilized massive street protests in an initial salvo of nationwide strikes earlier this month […]
5 hours ago
FILE - Visitors wearing face masks talk near a display for Chinese online retailer JD.com at the Ch...
Associated Press

China e-retailer JD.com ending sales in Thailand, Indonesia

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese online retailer JD.com Inc. is closing its consumer e-commerce services in Indonesia and Thailand amid intense competition in Southeast Asia. The e-commerce service will stop taking orders Feb. 15 in both countries and shut down in March, according to announcements Monday on the two websites. JD.com said in a separate statement […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

German economy shrank 0.2% in Q4, worse than expected

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s economy shrank by 0.2% in the fourth quarter compared with the previous three-month period, official figures showed Monday. The performance by Europe’s biggest economy was worse than expected. Gross domestic product shrank for the first time since the first quarter of 2021 largely because of a decline in consumer spending, which […]
5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Gross or great? Fancy butter boards soar as shortage looms