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The butter board trend spreads to hummus, dulce de leche and more

(iStock/Washington Post illustration)

Butter boards, those charcuterie-rivaling wooden planks smeared with softened butter and topped with photogenic garnishes, have unleashed an ooey-gooey monster on social media. Inspired by the buttery trend that launched last month when food influencer Justine Doiron introduced it on TikTok, our feeds are now clogged with boards spread with hummus, buttercream and more.

Her post, which was based on a recipe from chef and author Joshua McFadden, seemed to issue a challenge to social media’s Willy Wonkas of food: Let the board games begin! Sure enough, cooks quickly moved past butter as a base and are now heaping their boards with just about any spreadable edible.

Butter boards are the latest trend churning through TikTok

A candy maker named onesweetmama recently made a concoction swapping butter for a thick caramel she made by cooking cans of sweetened condensed milk in a slow cooker. In a TikTok video that has been viewed more than 3.7 million times, she pipes the sweet goo onto a marble slab. “I see all your amazing butter boards, and I raise you a dulce de leche board,” she says. “Happy caramel dipping.”

Buttercream, Nutella, peanut butter and even Cool Whip (in one instance, sprinkled to dubious effect with Fun Dip candy powder and garnished with ... bacon) have all come in for the board treatment.

Naturally, big brands are jumping aboard. Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s posted a video showing different ways to layer its products, including a base of softened vanilla ice cream with crumbled apple cider doughnuts and apple slices for dipping. “You didn’t think we’d miss out on this trend, did you?” the video was captioned.

And it’s not just desserts. Savory board options include labneh topped with tomatoes, cucumber, olives and za’atar; all manner of hummus smears; and fluffy layers of ricotta cheese.

A popular emerging subgenre is the everything-bagel board, which involves spreading a base of cream cheese and topping it with deli-inspired garnishes including capers, smoked salmon, and everything-spice blends, all served with bagel chunks.

Toppings for these not-butter boards are veering into pure anarchy. Everything, it seems, is fair game. Loaded baked potato toppings, Halloween candy and canned fish have all boarded the wagons.

Aside from the showcase for creativity the butter (and other) boards offer, part of the trend’s appeal might have to do with the economy. With inflation and other factors driving up food costs, a board topped with butter or another spread is typically cheaper than a traditional charcuterie board loaded with pricey meats and cheeses — while still offering a similar visual feast. But butter is getting more expensive, too. Prices are up 24.6 percent over the 12 months ending in August, according to the Wall Street Journal, and supplies are reportedly the lowest in years.

Still, some people think that perhaps the butter board and its sweet-and-savory spawn are a little … too accessible? The trend has gone so far, the greasy phenomenon has gotten its share of online mockery. Some have noted, as my colleague Becky Krystal did when the trend first emerged, that there’s actually an OG version of this “trend.”

Cookbook author Gaby Dalkin issued an all-caps edict on Twitter demanding that the juggernaut halt its viral spread: “THE BUTTER BOARDS HAVE TO STOP.” TV writer Jenni Konner sensed that the trend might not be harmless fun, but rather represent one of those four horses we’ve been warned about. “Has anything indicated the end of the world more than ‘butter boards’?” she tweeted.

And sandwich chain Jimmy John’s offered a tongue-in-cheek take, posting a TikTok video suggesting that you simply douse your board with dressing and then dip sandwiches, pickles and chips into the puddle. “Party hack — just pour kickin ranch all over a butcher block and go wild,” it wrote.

A hint that this is a deeply unadvisable move came from the song accompanying the clip: “Wet” by Sak Pase.