Children of the ‘90s will immediately associate the Butterfinger with Bart Simpson. The iconic commercial campaign featuring Bart proclaiming, “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger,” aired nonstop as The Simpsons became a cartoon powerhouse. It was smart advertising because, as a kid, what was good for Bart was good for me, and I gobbled Butterfingers down. As an adult who is painfully aware of my dental health, it’s hard for me to choose a candy bar like the Butterfinger, which has the propensity to get stuck in my teeth seemingly forever. But that still doesn’t mean I’m not interested in why the Butterfinger is so unique and how it is made.
What are Butterfingers?
Butterfinger was created in 1923 by a confectioner named Otto Schnering, owner of the Curtiss Candy Company in Chicago, Illinois. From the start, Schnering was an advertising whiz; he held a contest to help name his new candy, and he would drop Butterfingers and Baby Ruths, his other big winner, out of airplanes as a publicity stunt. Schnering also cashed in on child stars way back in the 1930s when Butterfingers appeared in a Shirley Temple movie; a direct line can be drawn from her to Bart Simpson.
As with most locally-owned candy creations that stand the test of time, Butterfingers changed hands multiple times: Standard Brands in 1964, Nabisco in 1981, Nestle in 1990, and finally Ferrero in 2018, where it currently resides.
Butterfingers have consistently been one of the most popular candy bars in the world and even made Sporked’s list of the top 12 candy bars.
What is in a Butterfinger?
The bright orange insides of a Butterfinger are truly unique in the candy bar world. The primary ingredient of the Butterfinger insides can be found in its name: fingers. No wait, reverse that. It’s butter, specifically peanut butter.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “I’ve never had peanut butter that sweet and crunchy. Surely, there’s more to it.” And you’re right—Butterfingers’ unique crunch and satisfying snap are enhanced by a special ingredient: corn flakes. Through the candy’s production, corn flakes and peanut butter are combined and formed into the flaky candy center.
Other ingredients in there are molasses (which contributes to the orange color), corn syrup, sugar, and water.
How are Butterfingers made?
The process begins with a huge vat of peanut butter that looks good enough to swim in. As this is churning, the corn flakes are added to provide that extra-crunchy consistency. Meanwhile, the molasses, corn syrup, sugar, and water are melted together and then quickly spread and shock-cooled. This process crystallizes the molasses mixture, turning it into a kind of toffee.
The molasses mixture and peanut butter mixture are layered and folded until they become one mega mixture with all of the ingredients evenly spread throughout. It’s then formed into a log and covered in milk chocolate. As Bart Simpson would say, “Radical!”
Of course, this process is just for the bar. Butterfingers have come out with a lot of other variations in the past: Bites, BBs, Crisps, even ice cream. They all maintain the classic texture and flavor, they just come in different forms.
Are Butterfingers gluten free?
The original Butterfinger is gluten free, so eat with confidence. Other Butterfinger varieties are hit and miss. Some are, but others like the Crisp are not gluten free. So check your labels.
And when we are talking about allergens, one of the obvious big ones is peanuts. Sadly, the Butterfinger is a no-go in that department.
So, now that you know everything about Butterfinger, it’s time to not have a cow and go out and eat one.