Meet the Minnesota woman making butter for burgers (or for eating alone)

Sweet, sweet onion butter—an improvement on any burger patty.

Sweet, sweet onion butter—an improvement on any burger patty.

Is anything more deliciously Midwestern than slathering a schmear of butter on your burger bun?

This is the land of Culver's, after all. But the answer is: Yes. And that's scooping butter from a tub with a pretzel or a cracker, or eating it all by itself.

However you down your delicious dairy—with beef, on a Triscuit, right from the spoon—Fat Cheeks Foods founder Jamie Pearson supports you. She'll debut a line of flavored artisan butters at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Lyndale this weekend that work for any of the above.

"I freakin’ love butter," Pearson says. "It is the most perfect, versatile, flavorful food ever created."

Pearson first fell for Midwestern comfort foods watching her husband’s "traditional Minnesota" family in the kitchen. Scratch-made mashed potatoes, buttered carrots, pot roasts, buns, pie and ice cream: "I had never seen so much butter and cream used in my life. And it was so perfect. And I absolutely fell in love with it."

On the other hand, she came from a family that was more about flavor adventure: seafood stews, Latin American dishes prepared with hard-to-find peppers. She brought the approaches together as she started cooking in earnest, eventually realizing that she wanted to make people happy (and full) with her modern take on Midwest comfort food. For a while, her business was baking decadent caramel cookies. But everything she did was, at its rich, fatty core, a celebration of butter. "It’s pretty much the only thing I wanted to talk about. And then one day at home I had this idea to mix butter with some bananas and vanilla and sugar... and it blew my mind."

The chocolate butter is "Nutella for Midwesterners."

The chocolate butter is "Nutella for Midwesterners."

That banana butter started it all, and after a good amount of experimentation (read: eating butter by the spoonful), she's developed an additional three flavors for the Fat Cheeks line. There's European chocolate ("Nutella for Midwesterners"), sweet onion ("will completely change your burger game"), and bacon ("couldn't possibly launch a line of burger butters without including a bacon flavor"). All are made in small batches, with high-quality butter and top-of-the-line ingredients, and work sweet and savory wonders on toast or waffles or popcorn.

Pearson already has a few more flavors in R & Dairy—she's thought about pumpkin spice butter, or black garlic, or a spicy sriracha. (One reporter's suggestion of nacho cheese butter was met with enthusiasm, so you could have that to look forward to.) 

Maybe you guessed it from the name "Fat Cheeks," but another of Pearson's goals is to promote body positivity. She wants to celebrate, not hide, the fact that hers is a high-fat comfort food. 

"I think we can be a super small counter to the lifetime of messages we’ve received telling us to diet, that fat is bad, and that we need to be skinny," Pearson says. " I just want people to not feel so ashamed about some junk in the trunk ... let’s eat what’s delicious, have fun, and try to love ourselves."