Meet the woman on a mission to change America’s mind about room-temperature butter.

Like many people, Joelle Mertzel, a mom and resident in Los Angeles, California, always thought butter ought to be kept in the fridge, seeing how, one, it’s a dairy product; two, the label says “keep refrigerated”; and three, it’s sold from refrigerated cases in the store. The logic follows. This was at least until one day several years ago when she left a stick out on the counter, only to find it significantly more enjoyable at room temperature. (If you’ve ever spread refrigerated butter on toast, you know the unique frustration and rage that accompanies it.)

So Mertzel’s interest was piqued. Then, she found out a close friend kept hers on the counter. (Because her mother did, of course!) So she started keeping hers on the counter which led to her next big ah-ha. There was an extremely narrow selection when it came to butter dish options. And unfortunately, most leave your counters, hands, and pretty much everything in a several-foot radius greasy and butter-covered by the end of the day. She wanted a mess-free way to keep butter as accessible as possible on the counter without the mess. She started seriously wondering, “what’s everyone else doing?”

So Mertzel launched a small investigation into America’s butter habits. Here’s what she found out. Most people naturally did whatever they grew up with. 46% of Americans have “no idea” butter can be stored on the counter. That’s almost half the country! And 22% of America currently keeps it on the counter.

So next she set out to prove scientifically that butter does not require refrigeration. She had a food safety lab in California run some (well, many) tests, and found out that butter kept at room temperature can stay on the counter, no problem, for three weeks without refrigeration. (And if you have a stick that sits on the counter longer than three weeks, you’re probably not making enough Southern Living recipes anyway.)

So if you like butter ready to spread on warm bread (or steamed veggies, if you’re into that kind of thing) consider keeping it on the counter. Science says you certainly can, and you won’t have to buy any of what Mertzel calls “gimmicky fake stuff” just for its spreadability.

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Once she knew keeping butter out was both something other people did and could do safely, Mertzel went on to invent her own butter dish—the Butterie, which, thanks to its flip-top lid and no-skid bottom, prevents a lot of the greasy messes that traditional dishes can result in. Good butter and clean counters are something we can always get behind.

Do you keep butter on the counter? Let us know!