Every year across North America, state fairs present something mysterious, awe-inspiring, and very fattening: life-sized sculptures made from butter.
Bald eagles, Elvis Presley, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and even Da Vinci’s Last Supper have been rendered from coagulated milk fat.
No Margarine for Error
The first butter sculpture in America appeared at a fair in 1876, during America’s centennial. The sculpture had to be kept cool by buckets of ice that were constantly replenished.
The artist behind the rise of butter portraits was Pamela H. Simpson. After using butter molds as a marketing tactic to sell her farm’s butter, she soon began making a living sculpting portraits of people out of butter. Among her clients was none other than Mary, Queen of Scots.
One such uncanny sculpture presented year after year is a cow itself made from the product of its udders. A life-sized cow sculpture requires 600 pounds of butter—which is actually much less than the usual 1,000 plus pounds a real cow weighs.