In the Medieval era, kings and queens hosted feasts adorned with surprisingly complex edible sculptures depicting humans and animals alike. Outside the castle walls, of course, people struggled to put enough food on the table — much less, worry about its presentation afterward. But in the modern United States, food sculpture is the art of the people. Nowhere is this truer than the butter sculptures so common at Midwestern state fairs.
Caroline Brooks, an Arkansas housewife, was the unlikely artist who brought butter sculpture into the spotlight nearly 140 years ago. At the time, farmers’ wives were in charge of churning milk into butter, and often used wooden molds or stamps to shape the bricks. By sculpting the butter instead, Brooks took the practice one step further and turned it into a staple of so many fairs.
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