The Butter Board TikTok Controversy, Explained

In late 2022, butter lovers rejoiced when Brooklyn-based cook and internet personality Justine Doiron posted a TikTok of one of her homemade butter boards. Based on a concept dreamt up by Portland cookbook author Joshua McFadden, Doiron set a goal of turning the butter board into "the new charcuterie board." The recipe featured spreading butter across a board and topping it with salt, herbs, vegetables, flowers, and other ingredients. Doiron served the board with fresh bread and had a viral hit on her hands.

With millions of views on TikTok, Doiron spawned countless copycats on the social media platform. With major outlets like the New York Times picking up on the food hack, Doiron even appeared on an episode of "The Rachel Ray Show" to share the butter board. However, that positive reception towards Dioron has recently begun to shift, with the influencer garnering controversy for her connection to the dairy industry. 

In a since-deleted press release (captured via Morning AgClips), Dairy Management Inc. celebrated the butter board's viral popularity and singled out Doiron as a member of its Dairy Dream Team. Dairy Management partnered with a number of chefs and influencers as part of a marketing strategy. In a statement, DMI's CEO and President Barb O'Brien said, "By working with social media influencers, we are meeting consumers where they are and giving them new reasons to choose dairy." Several online users have now called out the marketing stunt for being disingenuous.

How TikTok is reacting

While dairy campaigns like the hugely successful 1993 "Got Milk?" campaign have garnered goodwill in the past, one TikToker is questioning the morals behind the viral butter board hack. She said that the discovery of the marketing strategy by Dairy Management Inc. left her feeling "sick." She also pointed out the dangers of viewers not realizing they're part of a larger marketing strategy, saying, "Some of the content we're seeing that we think is an organic trend that's happening is not necessarily organic."


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♬ original sound – Pretty Rabid

In total, the Dairy Dream Team reaches an average of 25 million social media followers altogether. In response to the butter board controversy, some TikTok users agreed that they were skeptical of content on TikTok. One user wrote, "I find that on TikTok more than any other platform, I'm asking myself, 'Is this an ad/sponsored?'" However, some users came to Justine Doiron's defense, claiming that Dairy Management actually rejected the butter board as a marketing strategy and that Doiron posted it of her own accord because she liked it. 

While it remains to be seen what if any effect this will have on companies' social media marketing strategies, the butter board has also garnered health concerns as well. Critics questioned the unhealthiness of butter and also believe butter boards could be a breeding ground for bacteria.