West Coast butter is stubby, East Coast butter is lanky, and the Midwest must choose sides

Butter really does look different depending on your coast—but it's still eight tablespoons, however you slice it.

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Image for article titled West Coast butter is stubby, East Coast butter is lanky, and the Midwest must choose sides
Photo: Ali Majdfar / Contributor (Getty Images)

My conspiracy-obsessed sister first told me about the Mandela Effect. It’s a term for a sort of collective false memory—for example, the belief that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s (he did not). Since then, I’ve questioned everything I think I remember from history. Does Bill Clinton really play the saxophone? Is Tom Cruise really a Scientologist? Did I really just see a glittery pink lizard pop out of my kitchen to ask where I keep the Bisquick? (Wait.) Now, I’ve got something else to question: bicoastal butter differences.

My butter crisis began on January 22, when one Cabel Sasser tweeted an ad for a butter dish. A“smarter” butter dish, to be specific—one that promises to hold both “West and East Coast butter.” West Coast butter? The only West Coast butter I’m familiar with is my coconut-scented sunscreen. Bada bing!

Turns out, butter sticks really do look different depending on your coast. Per HuffPost, butter on the East Coast typically comes in “long and narrow sticks,” while butter on the West Coast comes in shorter and wider sticks called—wait for it—“stubbies.” Little chubby butter sticks for little chubby babies!

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Marketplace reported that a New Orleans chef kicked off the mayhem when he asked his butter supplier for quarter-pound butter sticks instead of the customary one-pound blocks. (Personally, I love buying butter in one-pound blocks from a nearby specialty grocer. Nothing more satisfying than lopping off a big ol’ hunk for shortbread purposes.) Later, the Elgin Butter Co. in Elgin, Illinois, manufactured a popular butter press that standardized the shape and size of East Coast-style butter sticks.

Meanwhile, the West Coast butter industry was also ramping up—but without the help of the handy Elgin butter press. One expert told Marketplace that “the size of the cube you see in the West is a result of newer equipment purchased at the time to package the butter.” Newer equipment = stubbier butter sticks.

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I’m located firmly in the Midwest, where East Coast-style butter sticks seem to be the norm. But regardless of where you buy your butter, standard sticks still contain eight tablespoons of butter per stick. Like everything else in life, it’s all about aesthetics.