Butter Buds, Old Friend

photograph and text by Megan Bedford

When I was a kid, I had a little thing for Butter Buds. My favorite way to enjoy the powdered butter flavoring was sprinkled atop a pile of freshly steamed broccoli. Where usual butter was sure to slither off moist crucifers into a free-ranging plate puddle, Butter Buds would form a neat, protective shield of rich, buttery coating.

I hadn’t thought of Butter Buds for many years, not, in fact, until tonight when I was wolfing down some “dinner for one” pasta I whipped up with farmer’s market broccoli, summer squash, onion, and green garlic. Somehow the combination of these vegetables, which I sautéed with Rosemont Market veggie broth, olive oil, salt, pepper, and tossed with fresh sage, basil, and Pineland Farms feta, elicited the memory of Butter Buds.

I can’t explain how actual vegetables with fresh herbs and cheese managed to taste like “concentrated natural butter flavor produced from enzyme-modified butterfat, spray dried into powdered form with maltodextrin.” However, it’s likely that it had something to do with the “fatty mouthfeel,” and it’s partnership with wet broccoli.

Another application is a breakfast burrito.

Since it only took me five minutes to eat, and I had nothing better to do, I Google stalked Butter Buds. To my surprise, Butter Buds turned out to be the most ridiculously amazing website I’ve seen since the Toto Washlet. It’s a kind of Dr. Evil meets Wisconsin agribusiness. On their website I learned that one pound of Butter Buds yields the flavor strength of 160 pounds of butter. I also learned about a new product: Butter Buds Bacon. (Why isn’t it Bacon Buds?)

In any case, their press release on the subject reads as follows: Butter Buds Bacon is making a splash in the market with customers using the all-natural, vegan bacon flavoring in soups, seasonings, and sauces including a “healthy marinara” sauce. Another application is a breakfast burrito. Butter Buds Food Ingredients has recipes for other delicious, bacon flavored applications.

Making a splash indeed! I can think of many applications for such a commodity. But it’s getting late, and I should get back to reality. In any event, I am thankful for my delicious pasta made of actual ingredients, however lacking in scientific enhancements, and that they reminded me of my 9-year-old self, who took great pleasure in crusting up a plate of steamed broccoli with dehydrated butter. Those were some of my first steps down the road to culinary obsession.