Raise your hand if you predicted butter boards would become the hottest food trend of fall 2022. Okay, raise your hand if you’d even heard of a butter board before last summer.
What started as a riff on the wildly popular charcuterie board quickly became a TikTok sensation. All of a sudden, social media was blowing up with images of creative and colorful butter boards complete with herbs, spices and flavored infusions.
It wasn’t long before people realized they could have fun with much more than butter… and the appetizer and dessert variations started flowing. There’s the everything bagel riff: a board smeared with cream cheese and topped with capers, smoked salmon and spices. There’s the caramel apple riff (which was popular around Halloween), complete with chocolate chips, sprinkles and candy pieces. There have been boards featuring peanut butter, Nutella, hummus, guacamole and much more.
Now, inevitably, all the attention to butter boards and their many variations has led some to clap back. (Are they too excessive? Are there food safety issues? Are people going too far?)
“Just because something is trending, doesn’t mean it’s perfect,” says Leigh Ann Schwarzkopf, principal of Project Partners Network. She advises companies to simply make sure they have a sense of what some of the questions or concerns are before jumping on a hot trend.
To be certain, butter boards are a wonderful example of how fast trends travel, morph and evolve these days, points out Nicki Gondell, founding partner of Trend House, Inc. She says that’s another reason the focus should be on why the butter board is so popular and maybe not so much on the butter board itself.
So why are they so popular?
It’s been two-and-a-half years since COVID-19 shutdowns began. People are eager to gather again in their homes. A new IHA 2023 survey found that 82% of consumers plan to entertain at home either more than or the same as last year.
What’s more, there’s something very interactive and comforting about being able to gather around a platter and share in a delicious treat.
In fact, the butter board craze serves as important evidence that housewares consumers are shedding their COVID fears, says Joe Derochowski, vice president and industry advisor for home and home improvement at The NPD Group. They’re no longer wary of communal dishes or serving styles.
Butter boards allow consumers to customize a food experience to suit the tastes of their friends and family. And the presentation itself lets hosts tap into their creativity and artistic flair. As CNET’s David Watsky commented, “It’s honestly fun and oddly satisfying to make a butter board.”
And while some may bemoan all the creative riffs on the butter board trend, isn’t that what it’s all about—being able to express yourself and create something based on your own personal style and taste? If your family loves everything bagels, then do everything bagels! If you and all your friends have a sweet tooth, then go for the sweet treats!
While we’re excited to gather again in our homes, it’s the togetherness many of us are craving, not the fuss. That’s why casual decorating styles like the coastal grandmother vibe have taken off, in addition to casual gatherings like watch parties and make-your-own pizza nights.
Just don’t mistake trends that channel a casual vibe for not caring. “When you dip and share, it’s not very formal but it feels very intentional,” says at-home entertaining influencer Elizabeth Van Lierde.
For more on the intersection of food, housewares and lifestyle trends, check out IHA’s Connect FALL webinar with Leigh Ann Schwarzkopf of Project Partners Network and Nicki Gondell of Trend House, Inc.