Butter walked so I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter could run. It’s butter+. Butter 2.0. Butter: The Next Generation. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter tastes like more buttery butter and it’s time we all admit it.
I vividly remember the first time I had I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. I was at my fake grandma’s house. She was the real grandma of my lifelong best friend, Sara. I didn’t realize that her grandma wasn’t my actual grandma until I was in the fourth grade. One afternoon, our parents dropped us off at her house where she let us help herself to whatever we wanted in her fridge. I began my icebox investigation. That’s when I saw it: the golden-yellow spray bottle—I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. All I could think was, “If it’s not butter, then what is it?” and I desperately needed to know.
I carefully removed the bottle from the fridge and did the only thing I could fathom doing: I sprayed the mystery condiment directly into my mouth. My brain felt like it caught on fire the moment the spritz of non-butter product hit my tongue. It was like those intense, close-up shots from Requiem for a Dream, but with margarine instead of drugs and I was ten years old.
The packaging was right. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t butter. At the time, I didn’t understand that the name “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” implied that it was, in fact, not butter. It looked like butter. It tasted like butter. To me, it was butter! For many years, I thought it was just normal, real butter with a quirky name that didn’t make any sense at all. It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned that there was no butter to be found in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
When I was in college, I worked at a dumpling restaurant in New York City. The one dessert on our menu was a fancy, little, deep-fried chocolate dumpling. The cook made them with Plugra, an expensive, European-style butter with a high fat content. One day, the cook cut me off a little chunk of the butter to try. “This is the best butter you’ll ever taste,” he guaranteed. I placed the small piece he handed me into my mouth and prepared to have a luxurious culinary experience. It tasted like nothing. Where was the rich buttery flavor? Where was the intense hit of salt? They should call this stuff I Can’t Believe It Is Butter because it doesn’t taste like butter at all!
That’s when I realized that, not only had I spent my entire life eating fake, non-dairy butter, but I actually preferred it to the real thing. Actual butter is rich and creamy and mild. Sometimes it even has grassy undertones if the cows that produced the milk were pasture-raised. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, however, is like saltier, more buttery butter. There’s nothing mild about it and the subtle undertones are of plastic instead of grass.
Whether you’re using the tub or the spray, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter will add an unbelievable amount of flavor to whatever you’re eating—a buttered noodle is made even better when it becomes an I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter-ed noodle. The way ICBINB glides out of the tub makes it easy to use in baking. And I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter bechamel? Yes please! Butter substitutes add more oomph to everything and there’s no denying it.
For a while, I let a margarine-hued cloud of shame hang over my head. Butter replacements were seen as unimpressive, faux-dairy knock-offs that had little to no culinary merit. Luckily, things are different in 2022. Artificial butters have made huge strides and are now in vogue. They’re no longer seen as chemical-filled spreads used exclusively by people trying to lose weight. Now, they are “plant-based,” vegan-friendly and often better for the Earth than the real thing. Butter substitutes have finally received their time in the limelight and I no longer live in shame. In 2022, I am a proud I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter lover and you should be too.