Norwegian Butter Crisis

Let us Celebrate the Anniversary of Norway's Infamous Butter Crisis

Back in 2011, people were actually arrested for butter smuggling.

by Ingrid Altino
14 December 2017, 12:46pm

A screenshot courtesy of TommyLife's YouTube video

This article originally appeared on VICE Sweden

During Christmas 2011, Norway was hit hard by a butter crisis. Everyone blamed each other for the shortage. Dairy farmers blamed Tine, Norway’s largest dairy producer, for not warning the country earlier that demand for butter had shot up. Tine claimed that the lack of butter was due to the bad summer weather, which had messed up the pastures for cattle. Many blamed the country’s politicians for imposing high taxes on imported butter.

Hundreds of ads started appearing on the Swedish auction site Blocket, in which Swedes started offering to drive butter into Norway for up to 500 SEK (£50) per pack. Eventually, two men were arrested for attempting to smuggle 250kg of butter into the country. At Danish airports, and on the ferries going back and forth between Denmark and Norway, butter started being sold in Duty Free. A Danish TV show even organised a crowd-funding effort to give away butter to Norwegians, while a group of teenagers auctioned butter to help fund their High School graduation party.

One person who took matters into their own hands was TommyLife, a Norwegian blogger and YouTuber. Tommy is an early Scandinavian version of Joanne the Scammer – a made up hysteric online persona, created by comedian Bjørnar Løberg.

Six years ago today, Tommy uploaded a clip on YouTube titled, “A butter message to the USA”, in which Tommy desperately begged Americans to intervene and send Norway some butter. It didn’t take long for the video to go viral. A few months ago, I noticed that it had started circulating online again. So to celebrate the clip's anniversary, I got in touch with Tommy to find out if the good people of America ever answered their cries for help and this year's butter prognosis.

VICE: How are you going to celebrate the anniversary of your video?
TommyLife: I’m gonna celebrate by lying in a bathtub full of butter, drinking some wine and then do a photo shoot.

Why did you decide to record the video?
I saw this comedian laughing about our butter crisis on an American talk show. That really fucking angered me, so I decided to record a video. Butter is no joke!

Did you expect the clip would go viral and be seen all over the world?
No, but I’m happy it did. Like, Katy Perry tweeted about me. I mean, hello!

Have you gone through any other crises since the butter one?
Yes. In 2015, we didn’t have any milk. I had to use soy milk to make my saffron buns; they tasted like soap. One time I dropped a brand new Dior mascara in the toilet – that was a pretty rough autumn.

Why did you send a call for help to the Americans, and not to other Scandinavians? We’re a lot closer to you than they are.
I have a Swedish friend who just laughed when I told her about our crisis. Imagine if you didn’t have the brine to ferment your herring? It wouldn't be all funny then, would it?

OK, fine. But did anyone in America reach out to lend a helping hand?
I received butter in the post six months after uploading the video. I also got a packet sent from the U.S. military, actually. I have no idea how they got hold of my address, I bet it’s got something to do with the Illuminati. People often send me butter pics on Snapchat.

How’s the butter prognosis looking for this Christmas?
We've got loads of butter this year. But it doesn’t really matter to me because I have my own private stash – an entire room filled with butter, so that I never have to suffer through what happened in 2011. Or to paraphrase Martin Luther King: I have a dream. A dream of butter. And it's soft.

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