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Butter Sculptures Gallery

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The next time you slather the creaminess on toast, please realize: butter has another noble purpose. Inspired by the life-sized butter reconfiguration of Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, we wanted to dig deeper and better understand the curious art form.

Butter Sculptures: A Brief History

Tibetan Buddhists were first to bestow upon us the butter sculpture. Covering monastery altars and family shrines for years, the intricate offerings are still sacred today. Monk artists work in extremely cold conditions to avoid the inevitable melting issue.

During the 19th century, the tradition spread to North America where butter sculpting has become a standard at state fairs. One of the most recognizable and beloved is Butter Cow, first created at the Iowa State Fair in 1910. The original artist went by "Mr. Daniels" but since then, many people in many states have attempted the annual crowd pleaser. This year, butter art even went green. When the New York state fair ends this summer, students from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry will convert the 900 pounds of butter sculptures into biodiesel for campus vehicles.

At this point, you really haven't made it unless you've been memorialized in buttah.

John McCain and Barack Obama

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Photograph from evileyeny on Flickr

Erie County Fair, 2008.

Gymnast Shawn Johnson with Butter Balance Beam

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Photograph from TheInadvertentGardener.com

Iowa State Fair, 2008.

The Wright 'Butters'

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Photograph from srhbth on Flickr

Ohio State Fair, 2003.

Elvis with Hound Dog

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Photograph from katybeck on Flickr

Texas State Fair, 2005.

Harry Potter with Hogwarts Owl

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Photograph from red around the world on Flickr

Iowa State Fair, 2005.

Darth Vader

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Photograph from A Welsh View

Tulsa State Fair, 2005.

Yoda

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Photograph from A Welsh View

Tulsa State Fair, 2005.

Tiger Woods with Real Tiger

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Photograph from Will Wilkinson on Flickr

Iowa State Fair, 2005.

Marilyn Monroe

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Photograph from WhatKnot on Flickr

Texas State Fair, 2006.

Butter Boy with Pig Friend

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Photograph from cannellfan on Flickr

Nebraska State Fair, 2006.

Pumpkin with Scary Face

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Photograph from jenniferjuniper226 on Flickr

Texas State Fair, 2004.

Mount Rushmore-Inspired 'Mount Buckeye'

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Photograph from marzipanz on Flickr

Ohio State Fair, 2008.

Butter sculptor Bob Kling called this "Mount Buckeye" to pay respect to all eight American presidents who came from the Buckeye state of Ohio: William Henry Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William H. Taft, and Warren G. Harding.

'Big Butter Jesus'

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Photograph from SolidRockChurch.org

Solid Rock Church. Monroe, Ohio.

Technically, this one is made of fiberglass, not butter, but was nicknamed "Big Butter Jesus" because of the yellowish, creamy-looking appearance. Resurrected by the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, the Jesus statue stands 62-feet high with a 42-foot wing span between the hands.

One of the Many Famous Butter Cows

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Photograph from 10bagspacking on Flickr

Iowa State Fair, 2006. (Though Butter Cow reinterpretations date back to the early 1900s).

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