Here’s the Difference Between East Coast vs West Coast Butter

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We had no idea about the difference between East Coast vs West Coast butter!

I grew up on the East Coast in Northern Virginia, but I was never the type to stay in one place for long. As soon as I graduated from high school, I started moving west, settling in Tennessee before moving on to Colorado and Oregon. With each new state, I noticed small regional differences, but things really started to change when I crossed the Rockies. Hardee’s turned into Carl’s Jr., and I couldn’t find Hellman’s mayonnaise anywhere (turns out it’s called Best Foods in the West).

The one change that perplexed me the most was the butter. The sticks looked so different, but no one but me seemed to notice. Would using these strange, stubby sticks make a difference when baking with butter?

East Coast vs West Coast Butter

It turns out that the East Coast and West Coast have different sticks of butter. It’s not something most people would notice unless they’ve moved cross-country! West of the Rockies, butter is short and stubby while East Coast butter is longer and skinnier.

Why the difference? Butter was originally sold in one-pound bricks until a dairy in Elgin, Illinois, started dividing it into four pieces. All the Midwest dairies used this “Elgin” mold to form butter. In the mid-1900s, the West Coast started producing butter, but they didn’t have access to the same mold. So they created their own press with a unique shape that’s now known as Western “stubbies.”

The Real Difference Is…

This isn’t like the difference between salted and unsalted butter (which can make a huge difference when baking). Despite the shape, East Coast and West Coast butter bakes and tastes the same. They both contain the same amount of butter, too (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces), so the only thing you have to worry about is buying the right-sized butter dish. When in doubt, look to OXO Good Grips. They make a wide butter dish that holds both types of butter.

Curious to know which brand of butter tastes best? We tried a cartload to find the best butter.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.