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ISO Plugra Butter in Massachusetts, the sad story of its TJ disappearance

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For many years Trader Joe's carried Plugra Butter, American made European style with a higher butter fat content, lower moisture, and considerably more taste (imho) than the conventional American butters. TJ also sold it at a reasonable price. Many bakers preferred it.

The disappearance of the product has gone unnoticed on this particular board, but it provoked much mourning, wailing, and mashing of teeth on the West Coast, check out the following on the SF board

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/619444

and the general board, though this discussion originated in Seattle

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609659

The standard TJ answer for their dropping a product is low sales. However I did check a well-informed employer at the Cambridge Memorial Drive store who informed the problem was different. The butter has been packaged in one layer waxy paper. Apparently the paper easily tore, resulting in considerable waste in the back room. TJ, so my informant claimed, tried to get Plugra to introduce an alternative package, but they refused. Sales, at least in Cambridge, were excellent so that excuse, at least locally , makes no sense.

I went to the Pulgra locator menu at http://www.plugra.com/product-informa..., but could find no vendors in Massachusetts. The closest were all located at A&Ps and Shoprites in Connecticut.

Within Mass It may also be available at some Whole Wallets, but no specific stores were listed.

Anyone have any luck in locating it locally?

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  1. I think I've seen it at all the Whole Foods...I'm a fan of Vermont Butter and Cheese Butter,myself, for higher butterfat, lower moisture and considerably more taste...

    2 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      I'm with Galleygirl on the Vermont butter and Cheese butter and I think the Plugra sits next to it in the Cheese Department- not Dairy - at Whole Foods.

      Penny
      http://www.bostonzest.com/

      1. re: galleygirl

        Our Whole Foods Market store in Monterey, California, does not carry Plugra. Also dismayed to find that the Save Mart chain - who purchased Albertson's Markets' stores in Northern California - no longer carries Plugra.

      2. For baking as I mentioned in the SF thread, have you considered trying Cabot 83? Its a bit hard to find in retail stores (only packaged as 1lb blocks), but its quite reasonably priced from restaurant suppliers.

        11 Replies
        1. re: itaunas

          I may try these alternatives, but of course the TJ-sold Pelugra had a much better p/q ratio than any of these alternatives.

          It may be worth my while to call the Ct. stores since I get to the Hartford area from time to time. They may have a decent price.

          Plugra was sold at some point to Keller's, a KC-based dairy conglomerate. Their products are all over the country, but for some reason, they are not selling Plugra in Massachusetts.

          1. re: VivreManger

            You might consider going to Russo's, who sells all these same dairy products at a lower profit margin than WF...

            1. re: galleygirl

              BTW, I checked out Russo's for Plugra last night with no success, but I will probably try their Vermont Butter next time.

              1. re: VivreManger

                I like the Vermont Cheese and Butter (particularly the cultured), but the Cabot 83 would be much less expensive.

                1. re: itaunas

                  3% less butterfat, tho! ;)

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Isn't Plugra 82, though?

                    1. re: itaunas

                      Okay, then 4%m more than Plugra, as well...I've never understood the big deal about Plugra, to tell you the truth....

                  2. re: itaunas

                    Not sure if it was Cabot 83 but Arax, my go to for many things, had some butter in one pound blocks that was pretty good. And I am sure reasonable $. Again, think it was Cabot, but not sure.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I did stop at Arax a few days ago, but noticed no Cabot 83. However I was not looking carefully so I may have missed it. I am dubious about their carrying it, but I will check again.

            2. re: itaunas

              I mourn the loss of TJ's Plugra as well. When I asked about it last year, a TJ's employee said that their cost had risen to the point that it was no longer profitable for them to carry it. I agree with galleygirl that it wasn't the *best* product, but it was superior to most supermarket butters at a similar (sometimes lower) cost. (I would never bother with the 1/2 pound Plugra blocks sold at Whole Foods, etc. - much better options available at that price.)

              Itaunas, I've found the Cabot 83 at Zabar's (in NYC) of all places, but never around here. I'm also excited to hear about local suppliers. Zabars also carries another Vermont product called Beurremont - also packaged in 1 lb. blocks - really superb butter. I've also found it at the King Arthur Flour retail store in Vermont. I don't know precisely who produces it (very minimal info on the label), but I'd love to find it somewhere around Boston.

              1. re: itaunas

                The Vermont Butter and Cheese Company stuff is better than Plugra, in my opinion.

              2. Crap - I really liked plugra, but haven't bought it in a while.

                1. Not sure on that brand but give Idylwilde a call they have many different imported and small farm butters. http://www.idylwildefarm.com/

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: hargau

                    Acton is a bit out of the way for me, but I will bear it mind.

                    Itaunas, where have you bought Cabot 83? Has anyone else found it in a Mass retail store?

                    Thanks to all for the quick and informative replies.

                    1. re: VivreManger

                      The easiest place I have found to get small quantities of Cabot 83 is Restaurant Depot, where you would need to borrow a card or try to open an account through any business. I have found it in other cash and carry places so I'll keep an eye out, and on two occasions I was able to beg some from a bakery. Given the interest from hounds here, if that satisfied the need, you might be able to convince someone like Russo to give it a try (maybe a few hounds getting together to try some from Restaurant Depot and then ask Russo). BTW, Paul W Marks was distributing plugra (case mininum) so its possible they still carry it and a store could order it through them.

                      1. re: itaunas

                        Great that Restaurant Depot has the Cabot 83 (plus they are in my town). I would bet Cirelli in Middleborough has some good butter options.

                  2. I've seen it regularly, as recently as this weekend, at the Whole Foods in Framingham and the Roche Brothers in Westborough. At WF it was actually in their regular butter/dairy area. At RB it was in their cheese area.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: honestcuisine

                      Unfortunately RB is not convenient to me, but it seems clear that W(W)F is worth checking on a store by store basis. Those that are close to me include any in Cambridge, Newton, or (at times) Hadley in Tofu Valley.

                      As for ordering a case of Cabot 83 through Restaurant Depot (or another distributor), how many pounds per case? In addition to however many Chowhounders might be interested, I may be able to persuade someone I know who bakes his own croissants for his recently opened successful Cafe to join the order.

                      1. re: VivreManger

                        Whole Foods in Dedham carries Plugra in the Cheese section and it is ridiculously expensive. As an alternative, you might want to try the Irish butter, Kerry Gold, at Trader Joe's. I actually have found a source where I hope to be buying large quantities of Plugra in Rhode Island from a Wholesale Baker's supply company and I believe that you might be able to walk in and buy smaller quantities.

                        1. re: bakerboyz

                          Kerry Gold at TJ has disappointed me. I won't buy it again.

                          1. re: VivreManger

                            I would agree...not as smooth and rich as Plugra.

                          2. re: bakerboyz

                            I was just remembering that some of the Russian and Eastern European places carried Plugra. I am going to check at Bazaa in Newton, and Bazaar in Brookline.

                            1. re: nsenada

                              No dice at baza - they did have some whipped eastern bloc butters, and Kate's homemade, but nothing like plugra.

                          3. re: VivreManger

                            Restaurant Depot sells it by the lb and for a better price in more quantity (I thought there was something in between a lb and full case -- quantity 3 or 10). I believe a full case of the 1lb baking bricks is 36 lbs, both for Plugra and Cabot 83. If you have a 36lb order, its worth seeing if Paul W Marks has what you want. Not certain that Cirelli carries it, but I would think that most egg/cheese/dairy distributors are a possibility. I think Seacrest (back behind Best Buy in Everett) is who distributes the Vermont Butter and Cheese, plus some other imported products and packaged more for retail.

                            Regarding Kerrygold: Market Basket seems to intermittantly carry the unsalted version and they also carry Presidente, I think both $2.99 or so for a bit more than a half lb. Dunno how much TJ's charges for it, but for baking I would still go with the Cabot 83.

                            1. re: VivreManger

                              I shop at Restaurant Depot and do buy alot of butter. Currently have about 15lbs of butter in my freezer. I wouldn't mind splitting a case but they also sell it buy the lb brick for a little bit more-believe the last time I checked it's was around $2,50 give or take.

                              1. re: Chocomom

                                I have never seen Plugra at the Restaurant depot in Needham...do you buy Plugra there?

                                1. re: bakerboyz

                                  No unfortunately, I haven't seen it there either nor I believe at the Chelsea location. I get the Cabot 83 there. I'm gonna check a few more places.

                                  Anyone know if Market Basket in Chelsea might have? I know they carry alot of items usually not found elsewhere.

                                  1. re: Chocomom

                                    MB carries Presidente (salted) and Kerrygold unsalted sometimes in the roughly 8oz packets. Since you menitoned splitting a case, you might try Paul W Marks and see if they will Plugra on a cash and carry basis if they are still distributing it.

                                    1. re: itaunas

                                      Have you seen salted Presidente at a Trader Joe's recently? Which one(s)?
                                      - the one in Arlington tells me they no longer carry it and I think it's much more flavorful than the Kerrygold.

                                      1. re: rlh

                                        I've gotten it at the Market Basket in Chelsea. Last time I got them they were $1.99. I like them for making croissants.

                                2. re: Chocomom

                                  I'm going to check it out this weekend. In the meantime, I got a half pound of Smiling Hill Farm butter from Pineland Farm in Maine - looks tasty.

                            2. Dairy Bar!!!! The Dairy Bar in Davis Square always has Plugra. I buy it there a couple times a month and they have tons of other awesome dairy products, mostly local.

                              1. I was at Marty's in Newton last night, and they had the same Plugra that TJ's used to cell, one pound wax wrapped, for $3.99. Not a bad choice, if you can get there.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: winedude

                                  Marty's and Dairy Bar are convenient. Good suggestions. t is located just out side of the core of Davis Square (whatever that means) on Highland St As I recall their Plugra price was higher than TJ's and probably Marty's.

                                  1. re: VivreManger

                                    Got to Marty's in Newton earlier today and can confirm they have Plugra for $3.99 a pound.

                                    It is buried in the cheese section.

                                    1. re: VivreManger

                                      Please report back and let us know if the butter tastes cheesy. I have hesitated to buy butter at Marty's since it's right next to such strong-smelling stuff. If you let me know that it makes it through unscathed, you will have done me a great personal service. Thank you.

                                      1. re: Scruffy The Cat

                                        I bought two pounds of it so I hope it won't have the same problem. I did just give it a quick sample and I don't think it tastes cheesy, but...

                                        The problem is freshness. I just realized that the date on the package is 12 December 2009 ! I bought it today 1 February. Cardullo's without the high prices, I am afraid. I don't know if that is sell-by date or manufacture date, but I fear the latter particularly since it did not have the fresh taste that I use to get at TJ. So I might wind up returning it. Tant pis!

                                2. I once went looking for it at Cardullos in Hrvard Square, after TJs stopped, they also didn't have it but there were a variety of other unique (to me) butters that might be worth trying.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: steinpilz

                                    I am not a fan of Cardullo's. Almost everything there is way over-priced and, accordingly, has passed a normal shelf-life. It is not a store that generates enough volume to keep a constant turnover for its merchandise.

                                    1. re: VivreManger

                                      In the center of Harvard Square? I guess I'm skeptical, I've had nostly good experiences there... but I did once get a pate that went south pretty fast (I attributed this to unscrupulous retailing and I could apply that judgement to many other places).

                                      From my experience their butter selection was unusual.

                                      1. re: VivreManger

                                        Count me as NOT a fan of Cardullo's for the exact reasons you state: pricey stale goods.

                                    2. Plugra, along with other high-end butter (irish, french) at Whole Foods Fresh Pond. I like the Vermont Cultured Butter myself.

                                      1. I haven't looked for it, but recommend trying the Euopean delis. Baltic Deli in South Boston and Karl's Sausage Kitchen on Rt 1 in Saugus.

                                        1. Capone Foods in Union Square, Somerville used to carry it all the time and may still do so, you could give them a call.

                                          -----
                                          Capone Foods
                                          14 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                          1. saw it at the dairy barn today: $3.69/lb, which i didn't think was bad, considering.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: wonderwoman

                                              $3.69 is a good price for Plugra! I think it used to be $3.69 at Trader Joe's too. And Land O' Lakes (not on sale) is that price.

                                            2. Another Whole Foods sighting. The Whole Foods in Andover has it.

                                              1. Has anyone done a taste taste comparison of Plugra and Cabot 83??

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: bakerboyz

                                                  I've used both - and don't use Plugra anymore: I don't care for the Plugra 'cultured' sort of flavor in the butter cookies and baking I do. The price of Cabot 83 is hard to beat, and the flavor is pure butter wallop!

                                                  1. re: pastrytroll

                                                    My son made Flour Bakery's recipe for raspberry shortbread bars using Cabot 83, and they were incredibly buttery and delicious. I made them using Trader Joe's regular unsalted, and they were really good, but the Cabot put them over the top.

                                                2. Just got the new Restaurant Depot flyer. They are advertising Plugra clarified butter 5lb tub for $12.95

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chocomom

                                                    Of course I just picked up some Cabot 83 there over the weekend - impeccable timing as usual, for me. Then again, I have a physical coming up soon, and I don't think the 5 lb tub will do me any favors in that regard.

                                                    1. re: nsenada

                                                      Just saw that you mentioned it's clarified, the ad has a picture of a big lobster claw dunking into it: http://www.restaurantsbyclick.com/rd/...

                                                      1. re: nsenada

                                                        What's the deal with Restaurant Depot? Do you really need a business license to shop there? Or can you sweet talk your way in?

                                                        Alternatively, maybe I've missed it, but I haven't had anyone report a definite sighting of this Cabot 83 butter anywhere else?

                                                        1. re: winedude

                                                          Here's what their website says: "Restaurant Depot is wholesale only. To qualify for a free membership account, on your first visit you need to show a valid reseller's permit (business license) or tax-exempt certificate (for a non-profit organization) and show proof that you are authorized to purchase for said business or organization."

                                                          They used to issue day passes to the public, but stopped a couple of years ago. I know someone who got a card with a letter from the nonprofit he works for, and someone else who just showed them the federal employer id number approval form for his company (a sole proprietorship).

                                                    2. I also miss Plugra butter and mentioned it to the staff at the Brookline TJ's and was told the same line about sales. But it seemed to me that it sold well in Brookline. Maybe everyone who has posted should contact TJ about our dissappointment. I now use the Kerry Gold, tastes okay but I notice that it seperates when melting.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: chuck s

                                                        So strange that they only had it wrapped in waxed paper, and the ones in Whole Foods are wrapped in foil...

                                                      2. Saw it at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge this morning, but for $5.50..

                                                        1. Idlewilde Farm in Acton always has the half pound package in their dairy section

                                                          1. Just saw the flyer for Whole Foods on Cambridge St, Boston: Plugra butter on sale $3.99 for 8 oz. through tomorrow (Tue, 3/2).

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Niblet

                                                              Isn't that what a pound went for at TJs?

                                                              1. re: nsenada

                                                                Probably. I'm just thankful that I don't count myself among the Plugra obsessed, I have enough issues as it is.

                                                                1. re: Niblet

                                                                  I hear you! I tried that Cabot 83 recently, and thought it was really good, maybe better than plugra.

                                                                  1. re: nsenada

                                                                    OK, where can I buy the Cabot 83? I can't figure out a restaurant supplier that I can get into.

                                                                    1. re: winedude

                                                                      Restaurant Depot in Needham carries the Cabot 83 and Plugra when I was there a few weeks ago. Believe they were around $2.20/lb or so.

                                                            2. I am another who likes Vermont Butter and Cheese better than Plugra. I think it's the best butter I have ever tried. I prefer their old labeling, but it still comes in nice paper packaging.

                                                              http://www.vermontcreamery.com/cultur...

                                                              old label
                                                              http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I...

                                                              1. Saw Plugra at the Central Square Whole Foods over the weekend.

                                                                1. Saw Plugra at Shaw's in Saugus yesterday - $2.79 / 8 oz., on sale this week $2.29 with Shaw's card.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: BoojiBoy

                                                                    Yeah, Shaw's/Star has started selling Plugra - unfortunately, they dropped Kerrygold to make room for it. While Plugra is fine for baking, it's virtually flavorless compared to Kerrygold and thus useless on toast. Now I have to go to Trader Joe's to get my fix.

                                                                    Ironic that TJ and Shaw's have pulled such a switcheroo.

                                                                  2. I purchased Plugra at my local Shaw's store! It was so creamy! I have a friend in N California that purchased Plugra at Save Mart in quarter sticks that fit her butter dish. How cool is that!