Butter head trivia: 5 things you never knew about butter heads

The Wall Street Journal looked into butter head carving at the Minnesota State Fair, and taught us five fun facts about our favorite edible sculptures:

1. The dairy industry has used butter carvings since the 1890s, but most large butter sculptures today are molded over a wood or wire frame, not carved out of a solid block, like the Minnesota State Fair butter heads.

2. The state dairy association introduced the Dairy Princess contest in 1954 and the carved butter busts of the winners in 1965, to boost the slumping dairy slumping industry.

3. Butter sculptor Linda Christensen has churned out more than 500 busts and has been carving at the Minnesota State Fair for 39 (!) years.

4. The 90-pound butter heads often end up feeding big groups. The Journal recounts how Kathy Zeman, now an organic farmer, had her 1976 sculpture displayed for a week at the local grocery store, then sliced in half and donated to two neighborhood Catholic schools. Wanda Ponto Sackter's butter head was displayed at a local restaurant, but later that fall her mother saved the nose and used the rest to bake cookies for the community.

5. Some princesses--or their mothers, at least--have a harder time parting with their butter likenesses. The longest known surviving butter head has been frozen for three decades. Former Princess Tae Nordby currently has hers on loan to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, in an exhibition celebrating the state's 150th anniversary. "It would be equivalent to tearing up a picture of your daughter," Laura Olson told the Journal. "You just don't do that." This from a woman with three butter heads in the family freezer.

More State Fair posts:

Minnesota State Fair taste test: worst new foods

Minnesota State Fair taste test: best new foods

Minnesota State Fair's Top 10 things to do

Texas man makes deep-fried beer. Minnesotans want some.

Use Current Location

Related Location

Minnesota State Fairgrounds

1265 Snelling Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108


Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >