Do You Have These Bizarre Butter Gadgets in Your Kitchen?
There are a lot of butter gadgets out there. There are butter knives, spreaders, mills, wheels, slicers and one that has a particularly nice ring to it: the One-Click Butter Cutter.
At Organic Valley we know butter, but we don’t claim to know a thing about butter gadgets.
When I came across the One-Click Butter Cutter I wanted to know more about it, and that left my team wanting to know more about butter-cutting tools in general. So we stocked up on butter and acquired a handful of interesting gadgets to
1. Figure out how to use. 2. Decide if people should upgrade from butter knives to something better.
I’m not much of a gadget gal. A butter knife does a fine job (or a fork in desperate situations), but we are keeping an open mind.
Stainless Steel Butter Cutter
We really like this butter cutter. In seconds it turned a chilled stick of butter into about 20 uniform slices. These perfect slices would be nice at a gathering of friends and family. Set the slices next to dinner rolls or have a dish of precisely prepped butter for a buffet-style meal.
A 4-ounce stick of Organic Valley butter is half a cup (8 tablespoons) and
measures 1.25 by 1.25 by 4.69 inches, but size can vary slightly.
Wire Butter Cutter
Eh, it did the job. A handy feature is the adjustable width. The wire worked at an angle and when cutting the butter from above. This wire cutter is also intended to cut cheese. We were on butter detail and didn’t give that a try.
Enter the Unknown. What Is This Thing?
There was a lot of confusion surrounding this one. The gadget was simply called a vintage butter pat/slicer. While passing it around the office, co-workers had varying opinions of what it must be — and they weren’t butter related. They thought it may be for tweezing or pulling things, a medical device or a flint striker to start a Bunsen burner (a blast from the high school science-class past).
The cutter did not come with instructions, and I have nothing to write about it because I have no idea what it is. If you know how to use this gadget, please email Rootstock@organicvalley.com. (I’ll update this article when we figure it out.) For $2.99, it was well worth the entertainment value.
Aug. 3, 2023, update: Several people reached out to set Organic Valley butter-gadget testers straight. We were duped. The seller sold the instrument as a butter pat/slicer (no hard feelings, we assume they didn't know either). So what it is it? Drum roll ... a cookie dough dropper.
Self-proclaimed "Grandma Gadget" wrote, "I bought one of these when they were not vintage — many years ago. It was sold as a cookie scoop. You squeeze it shut, scoop up the dough and release to get the dough to drop on the cookie sheet."
Owners of a collectible shop in Maine also shared the shocking news (and they know gadgets). "We have spent considerable time trying to figure out what some of the strangest gadgets we have found actually do," according to the owners of Recycling Retro.
Thanks to all who reached out — even those with unique guesses that did not make the cut.
Presto Vintage Butter Cutter
This is a simple way to create rectangles of butter. The butter chunks are useful in making baked goods.
Butter Spreader and Curler
How do you use a butter spreader and curler? It took a little coaxing but we got the hang of it. Slide the device across the top of the butter for cute little curls. It worked best when the butter was slightly soft (not fresh from the fridge).
Butter Cutting Partitioner Metering
This device cuts butter into 5, 10, 15 and 20 g chunks. It may be useful in a place where the butter is drastically differently shaped (but we don’t know where that might be). We are not versed enough in butter-cutting devices to figure this out. Three “butter-gadget testers” read about it on the web and are still unsure of its correct use. It has what appears to be a handle for hanging it, so that’s a bonus. (Here’s another chance for you to email Organic Valley and tell us how to use it.)
Simple. Results as expected. There is a reason everyone uses it.
Not-Quite Butter Cutters
We intended to get only butter-cutting devices but got a little too zealous in our shopping. These gadgets don’t fit the “butter-cutter” category, but they are still kind of cool.
How do you use a butter mill? Place butter in the compartment, turn the knob, collect the butter and spread. It’s satisfying to see the butter emerge from the mill. It reminds us of playing with playdough in our youth. Other observations of the squirmy butter output: The butter looks kind of like ramen noodles or a Chia Pet’s hair. It was certainly entertaining.
Stick butter in and twist the handle. Supposedly the butter dispenser can make a 10-foot ribbon of butter. We could only get a 5-inch ribbon before the butter broke off. After a little practice and the butter softened a bit, we got to about 20 inches. The “ribbon” would look lovely on a baked potato — or if you want to start your day with fancy toast, go for it. However, it is a pretty hefty hand and wrist workout and seems quite wasteful as a lot of butter gets stuck in the grooves.
How Neat — A Butter Wheel
The butter wheel was also in our arsenal of gadgets so it’s worth mentioning. You put butter in it and place the butter wheel on a hot surface like a grill or griddle, to melt the butter. Then you roll bread or veggies over it to apply melted butter.
A True Cutting Device: One-Click Butter Cutter
The final entry in our gadget list is the One-Click Butter Cutter that put this story in motion.
Organic Valley’s butter guru brought this interesting device home from a butter conference, and I just had to have one and learn about it. Paul Wilhelm patented the cutter in 2001. I figured I should give him a call.
Wilhelm wanted a way to quickly and easily cut butter — something you could grab from the fridge and “squeeze off a slice of butter for a hot muffin before it cooled or for a frying pan when cooking or to put on some vegetables.”
There were dozens of butter-cutting gadget patents at the time, but he got busy creating his own device. It wasn’t easy but it was fun, he said.
“You think about things and think about things and then you get an insight. A little commonsense takes over once in a while,” he said of his creative process.
The cutter is simple, but it may take a few sticks to figure out how to load the One-Click Butter Cutter.
- Take the cap off.
- Remove the inner workings (technically called the butter pusher) by turning it upside down and shaking it.
- Put a stick of butter in (remove wrapper).
- Put the pusher back in (an arrow shows you which way).
- Replace the top.
- Squeeze the handle, kind of like a stapler, to get a nice slice of butter. You want to keep the Butter Cutter in the fridge; otherwise you will have mushy, messy butter (and the butter may need a little coaxing off of the cutter).
“There are a lot of gadgets out there,” Wilhelm said. “I think mine is the best, of course.”
Bonuses: It’s a great conversation piece and creates an alluring clicking sound that makes you want to keep on butter cuttin’. Is it a must-have butter gadget? No, but it is intriguing.
“She works pretty nice,” said one of our butter-gadget testers (aka an intern on her first day at Organic Valley). “Pretty darn efficient.”
It is a little clunky, takes patience to figure out and has gotten some rough customer reviews. We were a bit skeptical but impressed once we watched the One-Click Butter Cutter work its magic.
The Gadget Won’t Make the Butter Better
There is irony in the timing of this story. I headed to Organic Valley’s Pasture Café to grab a bite before writing it. Here, I came upon a diner having a hard time getting butter out of an ice cream-type scooper meant for butter retrieval. She was holding up the lunch line and surely discouraged. Organic Valley employees love our butter and will do what it takes to retrieve it.
This leads us to our takeaway: You don’t need a tool to get better butter. Like people, it’s on the inside that counts. No sparkly knives or fanciful gadgets will change what’s in Organic Valley’s award-winning butter — pasteurized organic sweet cream.
Be True to Yourself and Be True to Your Butter.
An antique typewriter fanatic and chicken mom who treasures time outdoors exploring, listening to and admiring all that nature has to offer, Jennifer McBride is Rootstock’s editor. She enjoys sharing the stories of farmers, family, organics and the food system. McBride spent 15-plus years as a journalist and newspaper editor before finding her niche with the world’s leading organic dairy cooperative. What would you like to read on Rootstock? Contact her at Rootstock@organicvalley.com.