What Is I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter?

Available in not only a butter-mimicking spread, but also a handy spray bottle (when all the knives are in the sink), I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter has been satiating the need for butter with a fraction of its fat content for decades. But, while we certainly know what it’s not, what is I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, actually? Today, we’ll deliberate this issue, and hopefully iron everything out before our toasted bagel gets too cold! 

What is in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter?

According to the brand, the ingredients in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Original Soft Spread are: purified water, soybean oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, salt, soy lecithin, natural flavors, vinegar, Vitamin A Palmitate, and beta-Carotene (for butter-esque color). The name doesn’t lie. No butter in sight! We love to see truth in advertising, don’t we, folks? 

When was I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter invented? 

The first I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter recipe was developed by the J.H. Filbert company in Baltimore in 1979 as a low-cost alternative to butter. (Though it didn’t hit shelves until 1981.) What about the name? Well, according to corporate lore, a husband of a secretary who worked at J.H. Filbert tried the butter alternative and said, “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” (Or something along those lines.) And the sentence name of a real product was born. 

Though he has been the spokesperson for the product since 1994, Fabio had nothing to do with the spread’s invention. (Not that he couldn’t have, we’re sure he’s a perfectly smart guy who has invented lots of other food products…just not this one.) 

Is I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter vegan?

While the original product contains dairy elements, the company has begun producing I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Vegan, specifically to cater to vegan diets. And, hey, it’s still not butter!

Is I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter margarine? 

You might think that I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter would fall into the category of margarine (it’s not butter, after all!). However, according to the official I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter website, it most certainly is not. According to the brand, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! is not margarine. Margarine has a standard identity established by the FDA and must contain at least 80% fat. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! products contain less than 80% fat and are, therefore, not classified as margarine.” This fact would certainly be more widely known if the name was “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and It Also Isn’t Margarine Because of the Fat Content Situation,” but we suppose there’s only so much room on the packaging. 

At the end of the day, there’s a lesson we can learn from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. For, you see, sometimes we don’t need to be defined by what we are. Sometimes it’s just as important to know what it is you’re not. It’s not butter, and neither are you…and that’s ok! 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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