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In search of Butter Boy 

The Wegmans cult has a new golden icon

I have lived in Rochester for 11 years and have frequented as many Wegmans throughout my time here. For the most part, I can find what I want and need at Wegmans, and if I can survive the Thunderdome-esque parking lots, I can get home to enjoy my purchases. But there is one thing I could never find, though people all over town rave about it incessantly. It's not the jumbo-sized Pub Mix (which seems to come out about once every new moon, so I am just bad at timing it right to acquire it). It's not the vegan sour cream; it just happens that I can only find that at the "P" stores: Penfield and Pittsford. No. The one thing I had not seen, that everyone in Rochester seems to know and love, is Butter Boy.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
  • PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON

I recently learned about Butter Boy -- Wegmans' new French butter product with a cartoonish mascot -- through a Facebook meme group dedicated to the grocery store called "Danny Wegman's Memes U Feel Good About™." I don't recall ever joining this group, and my attempts to exit it have failed, so I assume that everyone in Rochester is legally required to be in it -- something like jury duty, but for food consumerism.

For the most part, the members of the group post things about how "Daddy Wegman" has provided them with various groceries or how pretty the prepared food section is. In recent months, folks were posting pictures and marveling at artfully stacked flavored seltzer displays made to look like watermelon rinds or cityscapes or just the name of the store branch. Occasionally someone will complain that their Wegmans has run out of a product and then make a denigrating comparison of their store to a competing grocery store they've deemed beneath them.

But most recently, the buzz is all about Butter Boy. There's a picture of a woman hugging the store's Butter Boy cutout display with the caption, "Daddy is giving us Butter Boy!" More posts include: "Butter Boy is coming!," "Where, oh where is Butter Boy? (sad face emoji)," "Nobody puts Butter Boy in the corner!," "Just hanging with me and the Butter Boys" (with a meme of four Butter Boys dressed as Spider-Man villains).

click to enlarge PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
  • PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON

My only response to the buzz was: "What the hell is Butter Boy?" Going to Google yielded a "butter boy" corn butterer, sold in a certain bed and bath chain store, located in the "beyond" section. You pop off the head and slather your corn with the butter that pushes out through his gaping neck hole. Yes, it looks as horrifying as I just described it. This is not the Butter Boy I was looking for. The meme group was focused on a different, less disturbing Butter Boy. He is what I assume is an anthropomorphic stick of butter, with a bulbous smiley head resembling a Lego Minifigure without the top peg. His shirt and pants are the same sunny yellow as his face, and his name floats in front of his midsection.

The memes made him a bit more interesting. His head was Photoshopped onto a Genny Kolsch can. People took selfies with the giant character cutout at the store. There were pranks, too: bakery departments would steal him and hold him hostage from the cheese section where he is usually located. My feed was regularly bombarded by the jaundiced chap waving his French flag...wait...is he French? Why isn't his name le Garçon de Beurre?

I did not understand the hype. It's butter. Who cares about its nationality, and why the fuss over a giant boy made of butter (cute as he is)? There's even a change.org petition requesting that Wegmans make a Butter Boy action figure. That is a ridiculous idea, though; he would clearly be better as a plush doll.

I decided to try this Butter Boy French butter to see why it garnered so much attention. Unfortunately, it was out of stock everywhere I looked. I scoured three Wegmans stores and could not find the real Butter Boy (the cutout nor the product). Calkins, Pittsford, and Penfield were out. I waited a week and continued my search, adding the East Avenue branch. No Butter Boy. Another week went by, and I had no luck. Was Butter Boy going to be my white (rather yellow) whale?

Before I gave up and sadly sang Lisa Stansfield's "All Around the World" in the rain, I ventured out again and finally found Butter Boy at East Avenue. At last, I could find out if all the hype was right and the weeks-long search was worth the trouble. I took a sample of the butter on a roll. It is richer than any butter I have ever eaten. I could barely taste the sea salt advertised on the container; it was mostly butterfat. Apparently French butter is churned longer so it has 2 percent more butterfat than most American butter, which is required to have 80 percent. That 2 percent makes an exponential difference in the texture and flavor. It might just be worth the $17.99/lb. it costs.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
  • PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON

It did not take long to finish the package I bought, and I immediately went to get more, but alas, they were out again. Butter Boy is an elusive one, due to his popularity. Is it deserved popularity, though? I have to admit. It may be. Je t'aime, Butter Boy.

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