I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! is a brand of a spreadable emulsion of vegetable oil in water with butter flavor[2][3] produced by Upfield[4] and marketed as a substitute for butter.[2]

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!
Product typeMargarine
CountryUnited States
Introduced1981; 42 years ago (1981)[1]
Previous ownersUnilever


Fabio Lanzoni, spokesman of the brand since 1994.

The J.H. Filbert company, based in Baltimore, Maryland, developed the product in 1979 as a low-cost alternative to butter for the food service industry.[5] The name originated from a comment by the husband of a company secretary as he sampled the product and it was first marketed to retail consumers in 1981.[1][5] The company was acquired by Unilever in 1986, which then expanded sales of the product, previously only available primarily in the Washington, DC/Baltimore area, throughout the entire United States in 1988 and later to the United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico in 1991.[6][7][8][9] The product was put on the market in Germany in 2011 and in Chile in 2012.[citation needed]

Fabio has been the brand's celebrity spokesman since 1994, appearing in many of the brand's commercials, usually with his only line of dialogue being the brand name.[10]


In addition to a regular and 'light' spread, Unilever also uses the brand name to market a liquid butter substitute contained in a spray-bottle.[11] This product is an emulsion of vegetable oil in water formulated with a 'hint' of butter flavor (derived from buttermilk) and is marketed as having zero calories and zero fat content.[12] In 2017, Unilever announced two new varieties, "It's Vegan" and "It's Organic".[13]

Consumer salesEdit

United StatesEdit

It was reported in July 2005 (per research from the market research company Information Resources) that the product at that time led in product sales for its category of margarines, butter blends and spreads, with sales revenue standing at US$244.7 million,[11] summarized from 52 weeks up to July 10, 2005.[11]

But by 2012, the situation had changed. It was reported in 2012 by Euromonitor International that while sales of butter and spreadable oil fell, margarine sales increased by 1.1 percent, but sales of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter fell by 3.9 percent. 7 percent of sales at Unilever consists of spreads, with a significant amount consisting of butter substitutes, the sales of which are on the decline.[14]

In 2016, there were $248.4 million in sales of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and $47.7 million of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light.[15]

UK rebrandingEdit

In February 2017, Unilever rebranded the product as "I Can't Believe It's So Good... For Everything!" in the UK. The stated objective was to increase awareness of the product's versatility. The rebrand was greeted with puzzlement and some derision by many media commentators.[16] Subsequently, the branding was simplified to "I Can't Believe It's So Good...". The brand was returned to its original form in November 2019.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Lazarus, George (June 1, 1981). "Filbert can't believe you won't like its new butter blend"[permanent dead link]. Chicago Tribune. ("Filbert has moved into the Syracuse, Albany, and Pittsburgh markets with a one-pound blend called "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter."") (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Calvani Terry. Antitrust Law Journal, 1989, "Advertising Regulation: The States v. FTC. "...a nationally distributed butter substitute, 'I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.'")
  3. ^ Cerklewski, F.L. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 2005, "Calcium fortification of food can add unneeded dietary phosphorus". "...and butter substitute (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter..."
  4. ^ "Our Brands – Upfield". www.upfield.com. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Unilever Corporate History". Unilever. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  6. ^ Wyman, Carolyn (2004). Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed The Way We Eat. Quirk Books. pp.50-52. ISBN 1931686424
  7. ^ "I can't believe it's not Butter!". Unilever(United Kingdom). Archived from the original on May 13, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  8. ^ "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter". Unilever (Canada). Archived from the original on April 17, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  9. ^ Jones, Geoffrey (2005). Renewing Unilever: Transformation and Tradition. Oxford University Press. pp. 102-03. ISBN 0199269432
  10. ^ "Watch Fabio Get Freaky With Food". www.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2021-11-28.
  11. ^ a b c Elliott, Stuart (July 26, 2005). "I Can't Believe It's Not a TV Ad!". The New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  12. ^ Amanda MacMillan. "Better: Butter-substitute sprays". Health Magazine. Archived from the original on June 21, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  13. ^ "Vegan". ICBIN US. Retrieved 2022-03-30.
  14. ^ "Margarine : Unilever can't believe it's not selling". Bloomberg. July 31, 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Sales leading margarine/spreads brands U.S. 2016 | Statistic". Statista. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  16. ^ "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is getting a new name - and it's even longer". Daily Mirror. 2017-01-21.
  17. ^ "Upfield relaunches I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, adds new variant | Foodbev". Foodbev Media. Retrieved 2020-03-01.

Additional sourcesEdit

External linksEdit