If you have a peanut butter fan in the house, it’s unlikely you can switch it for Wowbutter without them noticing. But if what you’re after is an allergy-friendly spread for your kid’s school lunch box that has the look and feel of peanut butter, it’s worth a try – although you will pay a premium for it.
Price: $9 (500g jar)
When it comes to quick and easy sandwich fillings, peanut butter is right up there with jam and Vegemite. But due to the prevalence of nut allergies – and much to the despair of peanut butter lovers and last-minute sandwich makers across the country – it's a no-go for school lunchboxes.
Introducing Wowbutter Peanut Free. This new spread in town is a nut-free alternative to peanut butter that's lunchbox friendly and claims to taste just like the real deal. We take a closer look.
What is Wowbutter made from?
The main ingredient of Wowbutter is toasted soya (50%). Soy oil, cane sugar, palm oil and sea salt also appear on the ingredients list.
Clearly it's free from peanuts, but the label also says it's "Made in a 100% peanut, tree nuts, gluten, dairy, sesame and egg free facility".
This covers off the majority of the most common food allergens, meaning it's suitable for people with a range of food allergies and intolerances – good news all round. People who are allergic to soy, however, obviously need to steer clear.
Like peanut butter, it's suitable for vegetarians and vegans. And as the label says, it's definitely safe for school.
What does it taste like?
Wowbutter has the look and feel of peanut butter down pat.
It's similar in colour, although on the darker end of the peanut-butter-brown spectrum. The paste spreads like peanut butter, and just like peanut butter, it has a stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth consistency. But does it taste "just like peanut butter!", as the label exclaims? My family gave it a trial run.
My husband described the flavour as being more like toasted seeds than peanuts. He told me he'd prefer peanut butter hands down. My peanut butter-loving eight year old wasn't convinced either. She thought it tasted "like burnt toast".
I'm allergic to peanut butter, so I can't compare. But as a standalone spread I thought it tasted OK, if a little sweet. To me, it had notes of slightly overcooked popcorn.
My other kids, who are also peanut-allergic, were just excited to try it spread on bread with jam (they wanted the experience of an American-style peanut and jelly sandwich!).
Curious about Wowbutter? Watch an eight year old blind test the spread.
Is Wowbutter healthy?
In addition to its peanut-free status, claims on the Wowbutter label include "4g plant protein per serve" and "660mg omega-3 per serve". They make it sound healthy, but is it?
Like peanuts, soybeans are rich in protein and fibre. Soybeans are also a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, a source of antioxidants, low in saturated fat and high in phytoestrogens.
But soybeans only make up half of what's in Wowbutter. Once you've added salt, sugar and palm oil (which bumps up the saturated fat content), you end up with a product that's not just higher in kilojoules but is also less healthy – not unlike some popular peanut butters with salt and sugar added.
So while dietary guidelines suggest we should be eating plenty of legumes/beans (including soy), eating Wowbutter regularly by the spoonful is not the way to do it.
This Canadian made product is sold through Woolworths stores across Australia. At $9 for a 500g jar ($1.80 per 100g) Wowbutter is considerably more expensive than regular peanut butter.
You can pick up a 500g jar of Woolworths or Sanitarium peanut butter for $2.40 ($0.48 per 100g) or $4 ($0.80 per 100g) respectively. And even the more expensive brands, such as Mayvers, cost less. Mayvers, for example, is $5 for a 375g jar ($1.33 per 100g) in Woolworths.