A few weeks ago we were contacted by Kevin, co-founder of dog food brand Butternut Box, who proposed us to test their dog food. Argo was of course totally overjoyed about the perspective! From my side, at first I was a bit concerned because of his quite sensitive stomach and allergies (it took us well over a year to find a dog food that he was ok with), but already after having a look at Butternut Box’s website and browsing though their (human grade!) ingredients I felt that it was definitely worth a try.
Butternut Box delivered us two-weeks pre-portioned beef and lamb recipe freshly prepared meals (we couldn’t try chicken because of Argo’s allergy). This is what we thought about it and a little adventure we had…
B like Butternut Box
In the 70s – in an interview to a magazine on cosmic search -, American physicist John Archibald Wheeler summarised Einstein’s work as revolving around three rules, applicable to “all science, our problems, and times”, the third of which being “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity“. This is very true and, if you think about it, the best products are often the ones conceived in order to overcome a hurdle. Well, Butternut Box’s square one was a dog who wouldn’t stop farting: co-founder Dave’s dog, Rudie!
And Kevin and Dave, who used to work together in finance in the city, came up with an idea; a rather brilliant one! “One day we were out grabbing a coffee and he mentioned the remarkable turnaround in Rudie’s health after changing her diet to a home cooked one. After realising there was no company providing home cooked dog food, we decided to quit our jobs and do it ourselves”, recounted Kevin.
From the first contact we had, I could tell that Kevin had dogs’ well-being at heart and was genuinely passionate about providing them with the best product, so I was very curious to give Butternut Box’s food a try (I mean not myself… Argo!).
When our yellow Butternut Box arrived, with its cool packaging and the meals therein wrapped in woolcool sheets and ice bags, Argo was over the moon and when I showed him the mono-portion servings he started licking them straight away. “Is it dinner time yet?”
Needless to say that our first day of transitioning from Argo’s usual food to Butternut Box went on very well, so as the second, the third, etc. In fact, Argo, who is trained to wait seated until he is told he can serve himself with dinner, started peeking out and was impatient to eat his meal. Palatability test passed with honours!
Visiting Butternut Box’s Kitchen
When over the phone Kevin mentioned that they had just moved to a shiny bigger kitchen in North West London and that they prided themselves on being as transparent as possible and operate an open door policy, I couldn’t resist asking if Argo and I could pop by. So on a Saturday morning – which happened to be the day after our Box arrived – The Londog’s 6-legged team took the train and went and visited Butternut Box’s kitchen!
When we got there, Kevin showed us around and it was very interesting to learn more about how the magic happens. Argo examined the equipment, approvingly, and wished that the machineries were in action at the time.
Our visit didn’t end there, though.
Having read on Butternut Box’s website that they personally test each batch of dog food before delivering it, I asked Kevin – on the spot – if he would have been up for a fast eating challenge between him and Argo.
He – very sportingly – accepted the challenge and also involved co-founder Dave, who happens to be a vegetarian whose only exception to his diet is BB dog food (!) (he tests it once a week before it goes out to their happy furry customers). They warmed up a portion of Butternut Box beef recipe meal and divided it into three bowls… What followed made history!
Are you curious to learn who won? It was all documented in a video that you can watch below! (Disclaimer: no humans were hurt in the making of this video, ingredients are human grade and taste is not bad either!).
Yes, the winner was Dave and Argo got the second place! But we argue that Argo didn’t have a proper grip… nor a fork or an opposable thumb! Anyway, after the challenge, Argo offered to do the dishes and diligently licked all the bowls to make sure no single crumb of food was wasted.
3 Tests for Butternut Box
In order to evaluate Butternut Box we made it undergo 3 main tests:
- The ingredients quality & “grandmother’s recipe” test
- The “poorometer”
- The dinner-time happiness test
1. The ingredients quality & “grandmother’s recipe” test
I am quite picky on dog food (although I know Argo wouldn’t even dislike rotten stuff or carcasses) and one of those persons who reads the ingredients list and puts a cross on a product if it contains ‘meat meal’, too high ashes, and so on.
Well, not just Butternut Box greatly passed the ingredients quality test – taken into account that they use human grade products (they buy meat for human consumption at meat markets in the UK and Ireland) -, but also it did very good at the “granmother’s recipe” test, which rules that if you can’t pronounce the name of it you shouldn’t eat it. If you want to check yourself, their ingredients can be found here.
In addition, meals are nutritionally balanced. Kevin explained “each Butternut dog has their box specifically tailored to their needs based on their individual requirements. Our nutritional consultation takes into account age, weight, breed, body condition and activity level of your dog to help us create a truly tailor made meal plan”.
2. The poorometer (i.e. the poo barometer)
From the day three of the transitioning to BB, I started noticing a considerable change in Argo’s poo. If only I had thought about this earlier, I would have cheered you with a POOto-story from day 0 to day 14. Regrettably (though I suspect you may not find it so sad after all), the idea came only on day 3 when the transformation was already quite advanced. So I will leave with with an image in words: compact, smaller and non-smelly nuggets!
3. The dinner-time happiness test
I already mentioned the Argo’s happiness at dinner-time in front of a bowl of BB… To recap, whiskers’ licking and tail’s wagging awarded it the maximum score!
2 (Other) Things We Loved of BB
#1 That Butternut Box meals are made with love
“We obsess over our food and our client experience” said Kevin. “We will move the earth to make sure all Butternut dogs are thriving on our food and it’s important that every time a client comes into contact with us they walk away smiling”.
We received proof of this during our trial. Kevin and the team were super helpful with the delivery and we received all the attentions during our food transitioning.
#2 That Butternut Box helps dogs in need
We learned that for each new clients who signs up, Butternut Box donates a meal to a dog in need. I asked Kevin about how it works.
“Where there is a dog in need we will always do our best to help”, said Kevin. “We have worked with numerous charities including All Dogs Matter, DOTS and R.A.N.A. We will always give the charity the option of what type of support they require of us, be it free meals, a cash donation or even our time and manpower. For instance, Dave and I helped R.A.N.A rescue 3 dogs and 4 cats from Tunisia by driving them back from Paris to their new foster homes.”
Our scores for Butternut Box:
Quality ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(on the 3rd day of an empty fridge and pasta with oil, I almost stole Argo’s portion)
Palatability ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(to lick one’s whiskers, according to Argo)
Price ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
(great quality comes with a bit of a higher price, totally worth the difference though, if you can)
Customer Service & Brand Love ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(redefine the concept of being spoiled)
Packaging & Convenience ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Environment friendliness ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(packaging is very cool, by all means; we used an Ikea sealing clip to close the bag between breakfast and dinner. Packaging etc. are all recyclable apart from the meal’s film. And no farts involved!)
So would we recommend Butternut Box? The answer is YES!
This is an indipendent review. We were given two weeks of Butternut Box dog food to try, which we accepted with reserve of being able to write an honest review or not writing one at all if Argo (the taster) didn’t like it.