Know anything about canned butter from the 1950's?
March 23, 2007 7:22 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out the name of the brand of canned butter my mother loved as a child growing up in Taiwan.

I'd love to present her with a tin of this stuff for her birthday. A long shot, for sure but I have to try. :)

She grew up in the Kaohsiung area of Taiwan, in a village that translates into Six Turtle (Liu Kuei or something similar), and remembers this sweet-flavored canned butter from her childhood. She would have had access to it during the mid 1950's-early 1960's. Apparently the Catholic church passed it out to the local people along with flour and such.

There are some traits of this elusive butter that she is quite insistent upon:
1. It was in a round tin, diameter approximately equal to that of a CD.
2. It had a cow on the side.
3. The stuff definitely tasted sweet. In fact it was so awesome that "[she] can still taste it now."

This Red Feather Pure Creamery Butter is the closest thing I could find (Googling yielded some notes about how it was imported to Asian parts of the world also), but it doesn't have a cow on it. Also, the ingredients don't seem to indicate that it would taste sweet.

Can you help me figure this out?
posted by phonebia to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
She couldn't mean Laughing Cow Cheese, could she? The website indicates that they market 'worldwide', but I have no idea.

The product is very "butter-like", however, and pretty sweet, for a cheese. And apparently they've been around since the '20s. Also, I have no idea how it would have been packaged back then.
posted by trip and a half at 8:40 PM on March 23, 2007

A search for "tinned butter" brings up Golden Churn. Perhaps the butter tasted sweet because it was unsalted?

churn is kind of a strange word.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:58 PM on March 23, 2007

This Chowhound thread suggests searching ethnic markets. It wouldn't suprise me if the butter tasted better because it came from Australian or European dairy cows- we don't feed our cows very well here in America.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:13 PM on March 23, 2007

This is just an uneducated guess, but Amul ghee has a cow on the side. Though it's an Indian product, the company is an enormous cooperative and it's quite widely distributed, at least these days.
Of course, I have no idea about connections to the Catholic church, or how available it was outside India in the fifties and sixties.
But the Amul butter girl sure is cute!
posted by pullayup at 10:04 PM on March 23, 2007

Oh, right, Amul dates back to '55.
posted by pullayup at 10:07 PM on March 23, 2007

Crap, or 1946, depending on who you listen to.
posted by pullayup at 10:08 PM on March 23, 2007

The thread oneirodynia points to contains a commenter who says that he ate canned butter while growing up in Taiwan, "probably from Australia". He suggests you look in Vietnamese or large Chinese grocery stores.'

Searching around, I found a company called Ballantyne, which is a butter producer in Australia. They claim that they are the "world's largest producer of canned butter." They have five brands under their umbrella:

Golden Churn
Red Feather
Wood Dunn Dairy Maid
Blue Triangle

They certainly export to Taiwan, or at least they do now.

I think your best bet is to call the international sales department that is in charge of Taiwan and ask if they had any packaging forty years ago with cows on it. (Perhaps your mother remembered wrong?) Their contact is on this page, or:

For China, Taiwan, South Korea and Pacific Islands
Andrew Liang tel +61 (0) 39690 1766
Email :
posted by suedehead at 10:35 PM on March 23, 2007

If there's a Trader Joe's in your area, they have a decent selection of canned butter. For what it's worth, I do remember having the Red Feather brand of butter growing up in Taiwan, but that was in the 70's.
posted by edjusted at 10:44 PM on March 23, 2007

The above posts are probably your best bet but the first thing that comes to mind when you say "sweet" is honey butter or some other kind of sweetened it possible that her mother sweetened it? Anyway, you can make up a bit of honey butter (1 part honey to 2 parts butter, mix) for her to taste.
posted by anaelith at 8:02 AM on March 24, 2007

It couldn't have been Ghee could it? I've never cooked with it, but the wiki info states that it's a sweet clarified butter. There are lots of different brands from various parts of the world.
posted by lucien at 8:05 AM on March 24, 2007

I'm not sure if this helps any, but back when I was a kid I loved to eat the "buttered toast" they sold at the hawker centre near my home. The butter tasted sweet as well and that led me to believe that the brand of butter they were using was sweetened.

However as it turned out this was not true; rather, the guy selling the toast would just sprinkle some sugar on the bread immediatley after applying the butter, while the bread was still hot from the toaster. The sugar would then melt and mix with the butter, giving the butter that sweet flavour. At some places they actually mix in the sugar with the butter/margarine.

Given that you describe it as having been distributed canned along with flour and stuff by a church though, I doubt what I'm talking about is the same at all. Still, it might turn out to be a good substitute.
posted by destrius at 2:36 PM on March 24, 2007

Sorry pullayup, have a bad habit of skimming threads and missed your post earlier!
posted by lucien at 12:59 PM on March 27, 2007

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