The Butter Queen

In the world of food writing, there seems to be no cheaper shot than Paula Deen. On the other hand, no one can deny that Paula Deen's line of finishing buttersshe’s the gift that keeps on giving, so I believe once a year is probably permissible.


Since I last took a swing at Ms. Deen, she had been going through a rough time. After being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in early 2012, she surfaced as a shill for a diabetes treatment program marketed by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk (just a coincidence, y’all). She has kept a relatively low profile since then, although her PR machine reports that she has lost 40 pounds and is now a believer in “healthy living.”


One woman’s healthy living is another woman’s indulgence, of course, and Ms. Deen has now launched her own line of butter at—where else—Walmart. There are five of them: Southern Grilling Butter, Lemon Dill Butter, Garden Herb Butter, Sweet Citrus Herb Butter, and my favorite: European Style Butter. “Y’all know that I love my travels to Europe and I call my European Style Butter ‘Bread’s Best Friend’,” she says of this last product. And yes, that’s a quote.


Is this a form of culinary backsliding? Sort of, but it falls into the category of “I only do heroin on Sundays after church.” You see, these are finishing butters, designed to be added to a dish at the last moment to “flavor” it, to give it that final fillip of palate weight that is essential to the addicted. If it doesn’t have butter, flour, tons of salt or gobs of bacon grease, it simply ain’t worth eatin’. Just a little finishing butter, y’all.


In today’s overheated media environment, it’s easy to misinterpret someone’s intentions. What is Paula Deen actually addicted to? Is it rich preparations, butter, pork products, or fried foods? No. It is money.


Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, published by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot); for more informatiion, go to

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