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ibstubro's avatar

Why does California butter traditionally have unique packaging? [Details]?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) September 25th, 2015

I recently bought this butter produced in California. It freaked me out when I opened it and saw the stubby, fat sticks. It seems this has been tradition long enough that dishware companies even made “California butter dishes” in both ¼ pound stick and full pound.

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17 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I bet it goes back to the days of gold mining. The shape of the California butter roughly approximates the shape of gold bars after the raw gold ore had been melted down and assayed by the authorities in San Francisco. My guess is that the California butter manufacturers copied the shape as an effort to show that their butter was a higher quality.

janbb's avatar

Gee – that Harp guy really knew a lot. Wish he were still around.

thorninmud's avatar

@janbb Easy for you to say, you didn’t have to live with him

ibstubro's avatar

FYI, the butter pictured was the actual brand I have. For some reason it was available here in the Midwest for $1 a pound at The Dollar Tree. I’ve used it for cooking twice in two days now, and I find the quality to be much better than what I’m used to.

I recommend trying it if you have the option.

And funny, @thorninmud, like on the other post, my first reaction was that I had only gotten ½ pounds of butter, and that they were 1/8 sticks. It took a bit of double checking!

janbb's avatar

California also has a lot of state specific laws and standards so I wonder if that affects the quality of the butter.

ibstubro's avatar

Could be, @janbb. I softened it above the stove in prep for cream cheese icing, and the texture was unlike any I’ve used before. Held its shape soft and was the equal of the warm cream cheese.

I’m going to be really sad when this 5–7 pounds is gone and I can’t get it anymore. I have some not-stick butter I’m trying to get through for eating, so I’ve not eaten any of the Cali butter direct.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

What do you mean? The cubed butter in the picture you linked looks completely normal to me and I’m from Oregon. Is there some other way, other than in round tubs and those cubes, for butter to look/be presented?

ibstubro's avatar

When you open the end flap, do you see the end of 2 sticks or the end of 4 sticks, @DrasticDreamer?

Here in the Midwest I exclusively see the end of 4 sticks.
In California, they traditionally see the end of 2 sticks, but 4 is possible.

Another way to describe it is that here in the Midwest when you look at the end of a pound of butter, it’s square. In California it’s traditionally a rectangle that is twice as wide as it is tall.

Does anyone following this question know if California margarine conforms to the same shape?

ibstubro's avatar

Midwest vs California butter dishes in the same pattern. Count the beads on top to guestimate length.

Note that both hold a ¼ pound stick of butter.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Oh, okay, interesting. I exclusively see two sticks in Oregon and I’ve never seen four anywhere, at any point in my life.

Coloma's avatar

Oh Challenge butter, a hallmark here and I have always had 4 sticks of butter in my box. Never seen a box with 2 sticks, interesting. Same for margarine, always 4 sticks.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Coloma Same here. Four in the box, but you can see two when you open the end flap of the box.

jca's avatar

In the East, our butter is longer and thinner. Girth vs. length LOL.

ibstubro's avatar

Is margarine the same, @DrasticDreamer? You only see 2 sticks when you open the box?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@ibstubro The same as butter, when I’ve seen them in stick form, but I’m more used to seeing margarine in tubs.

ibstubro's avatar

Mostly tubs here, too, @DrasticDreamer, but I keep margarine sticks on hand for cooking certain recipes.

Thanks for the info.

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