In the Media: The Lies Within the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Advertising Campaign

I recently came across the new I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter advertising campaign promoting their “Turn the Tub Around” video competition. The videos include a “cute” little song featuring the product I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter as a “healthy” alternative to real butter. The company declares that their product has less saturated fat than real butter and that it contains no hydrogenated oils.

What are hydrogenated oils?

Quick background information regarding hydrogenated oils: these are man-made oils, also known as trans fats, which deliver absolutely no good nutritional value; in fact, they increase risk of obesity and heart disease exponentially. They do nothing but horrible things to our bodies and were only invented very recently. They only exist in processed foods.

Trans fats also include partially hydrogenated oils; not just the hydrogenated kind. We should avoid any food that includes trans fats, hydrogenated oils, or partially hydrogenated oils. Consuming products with these ingredients is much the same as deliberately injecting poison into your bloodstream.

Now let’s take a look at the ingredient list for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter:

i can't believe it's not butter

Tub of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

Ingredients in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

The second item on that ingredient list says “Vegetable oil blend (liquid soybean oil, partially hydrogenated* soybean oil).” That’s right; I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter blatantly lies about the ingredients in their product! Artificial flavors are also prevalent in this product, which are also an unnecessary and toxic ingredient in any food product.

Real butter is not going to kill you. It is a real food, and as long as you don’t consume large quantities of it, it will not have any major negative effects on your health (by which I mean, only consume small quantities of it, and try to reserve it for special occasions).

If you are vegan, or if you prefer not to eat butter, an excellent alternative is Earth Balance (not to be confused with Smart Balance, which contains artificial flavors and other unhealthy ingredients). If the reason that you prefer margarine to butter is that it is more spreadable, simply leave your butter in a dish on the counter rather than the fridge. It will easily spread on your toast. Besides, I should think that trading in a spreadable substance for a poison-free substance is worth it.

The rhetoric that food manufacturers use is incredibly misleading. The only way to counter it is to do the work ourselves and read the ingredient lists: looks on these packages can be deceiving.

*Emphasis my own.

NOTE: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter has since changed their recipe, and the ingredients list no longer includes hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils. It’s a step in the right direction!

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  • charlotte says:

    Insanity!! I was just thinking about this today as I looked for a “spreadable” butter (it’s less messy when my kids decide to make their own toast) but couldn’t find a single one without some partially hydrogenated oils in it! And the worst part? Every single one was labeled “trans-fat free.” Liars! Good for you for calling them out.

    • Sagan Morrow says:

      *shudder* I can’t stand it when these companies do this. It’s terrible. And, admittedly, it IS really unfortunate that we can’t really have a non-toxic spreadable butter.

  • Eric says:

    I’m with you on this one. I have a really hard time believing people when they tell me something is “new and improved”. It usually means they figured out a new and improved way to hide something like I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter has shown.

    I have never used their products and I will never start. I don’t understand the problem people have with real butter. Hey, here’s a tip…..don’t deep fry sticks of it and try to eat them!

    At work, school, and at home I used clarified butter where we take regular sticks of whole unsalted butter and we separate the milk solids from the fat. Then we use the fat to start dishes when we saute. We use dime sized amounts that create huge flavor with a real butter product. I don’t know who these morons are trying to fool but they have obviously done a good job of it.

    There are bloggers/customers that are singing the graces of this I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and I sit there and think, “I Can’t Believe I Wasted My Time Listening”.

    Great job Sagan,


    • Sagan Morrow says:

      A little bit of real butter goes a long way! Eating something that isn’t natural is only going to be bad for our bodies. Besides, I can’t imagine that any of those butter substitutes TASTE as glorious as real butter does.

      It’s nice to know the professional chefs agree 🙂

  • Jolene says:

    Right on Sagan! You know I’m with you on this. The marketing is so deceptive I always tell people to train their eye to go to the ingredient paragraph FIRST! The nutrition facts are manipulated due to serving size, weight of the product and in this case legal loop holes. If the product has less than .5 gram of trans fat they can legally say 0 grams of trans fat. Criminal!

    • Sagan Morrow says:

      Absolutely. The nutrition facts table is all fine and good but it’s the INGREDIENT list that we should be paying the most attention to. What kills me is when registered dietitians promote products like this one… they’re supposed to be the experts and setting a good example!

  • […] anyone very close to me) have dealt with- and I hope to keep it that way. As some of you may know, I am on a crusade against trans fats. These dangerous fats are man-made and are also known as hydrogenated oil and partially […]

  • westwood says:

    I guess I will now have to actually give up the cool whip. Sad face.

  • Ugh. That is so wrong. As long as people keep blindly buying food, the food companies will continue to lie. Great article.

  • Nikki says:

    I have a tub that is 8 yes eight years past the freshness date. It will not spoil, turn, liquify and flies are not attracted to it no matter what. Now what does that tell you?

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