If you've been around this blog or our cookbooks at all, you know that we tend to use real butter in our recipes. We're into "old school," authentic ingredients. But from time to time, we've experimented with using dairy-free alternatives, such as Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. We know that some of you are dairy-free, and we want to provide alternatives in our recipes. On top of that, we're always interested in potentially healthier ingredient alternatives that maintain the taste and texture and spirit of our foods while possibly improving the nutrition.
So when Melt Organic contacted us offering to send gratis samples of their 13-ounce tubs of Buttery Spread, we accepted out of curiosity. The story behind Melt is tied to founder Cygnia Rapp, who notes that digestive disorders caused her to give up certain foods, including butter.
Melt spends a lot of marketing real estate touting the nutritional profile of their spread. Here's how one tablespoon of Melt compares to one tablespoon of salted butter from our fridge:
As you can see, Melt has slightly less calories, half the saturated fat, and notably less cholesterol than butter. But it has basically identical amounts of sodium compared to salted butter. So far, mostly so good.
On the plus side, Melt was nicely "spreadable" straight out of the refrigerator. (In fact, Kelli enjoyed some last night spread onto a slice of freshly baked gluten-free baguette.) As the name implies, it melts well over hot and warm foods. Also as you'd expect based on the nutritional profile, it has a pleasant saltiness. The flavor profile is quite good, though at times it can be a little too coconut-y.
But then on to the negative:
A cornerstone of Melt's hook is what the company calls its Perfect Blend, a blend of five oils: organic virgin coconut oil, organic flaxseed oil, organic palm fruit oil, organic canola oil, and organic hi-oleic sunflower oil.
A closer look at the ingredients label, however, reveals a startling fact: Melt contains butter! This is NOT a dairy-free buttery spread.
Here's the full ingredients label, with bold added for emphasis:
Organic oil blend (organic virgin coconut oil, organic palm fruit oil, organic canola oil, organic hi-oleic sunflower oil, organic flaxseed oil), water, organic unsalted butter, sea salt, organic butter flavor, non-GMO sunflower lecithin, tocopherols, annatto-turmeric. CONTAINS MILK AND TREE NUT.
In my opinion, Melt's entire product positioning is misleading at best, and dangerous for consumers with dairy allergies and other dairy-related dietary restrictions at worst. The fact that they tout it as a "buttery" spread; the fact that they tout their "Perfect Blend" of five vegetable oils without mention of the inclusion of real butter; the fact that founder Cygnia Rapp's story notes that digestive disorders caused her to give up butter. It all adds up to a product you'd expect would be dairy-free. Except that it isn't. In this case, it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck. But it's not a duck.
Why Melt would a) formulate their product this way, and then b) market it in such a way, is beyond me. They have a potentially great product on their hands, but they've excluded from their potential customer base two important groups of people who would otherwise be drawn to this product: vegans and the dairy-free crowd.
At the end of the day, if you're not dairy-free and are looking for a potentially healthier alternative to butter, or you're looking to decrease your butter intake while still enjoying many of its qualities, Melt is worth a look. But I'm afraid Melt has largely missed the mark. The product is good, but it's mismatched to its audience. What a shame...
Logo courtesy Melt Organic Buttery Spread.