(12/01/2019)
By Bob Weaver 2002

If you have a fancy for Buzz Buttered Steaks, you'd better rush out to the frozen food section of your grocery. After 50 years the once popular product is being discontinued.

The ground beef "steaks" are shaped into squares with a visible patty of butter in the center, which melts when fried. The box contained twelve steaks, a delight for any hungry family in the 1950's.

An original Hur boy, James Sturms, went to to work for the Hygrade Company, which produced what he called "poor man's steak." Jim said "I've sold a million of 'em."

Almost every country store in Sunny Cal carried the product.

In the Weaver household, they were a stable.

A few years ago we grilled a bunch of the "steaks" at the annual Hur Election and Bean Festival, at the request of Buzz Buttered connoisseur Marvin Stemple.

Marvin said he grew to manhood on such protein. Unfortunately, they cooked so quickly they shriveled and fell through the grill.

Salesman Jim Sturm, now deceased, was the son of long-time telephone switchboard operator Leona Sturm, and grandson of Calhoun politician and proprietor of the People's Store of Hur, Will Sturm.

Sturm worked for the meat company most of his adult life, until shortly before his death.

Buzz Food president Dick Gould said "This is almost like a funeral for us," with the product creating little excitement in recent years. At one time the company manufactured one million packages a year.

Gould said the Buzz Buttered equipment is so old they can't find parts for it, with only 100,000 packages being produced last year.

The two women who made the steaks on the ancient conveyor belt turned out the last batch Thursday.

The legend around Buzz Buttered Steaks grew even wider in 1976 when thieves stole a Buzz truck containing more than six tons of the popular product.

By the time a multi-state manhunt ended, more than a dozen well-fed accomplices were charged with distributing stolen goods. As publicity around the case grew, Buzz Buttered Steaks experienced record sales and the rest, as they say, is history.

Meanwhile, a Sunbury, Pennsylvania-based company will begin selling one pound packages of irradiated beef in February in six states, including West Virginia.

The irradiated fresh ground beef uses electricity to irradiate fresh beef, making the beef safer to eat by reducing the threat of E. coli, listeria and salmonella.

The irradiation has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture.

Is irradiated food the 21st Century replacement for the Buzz Buttered steaks?

It falls in the "Better Veggies Through Chemicals" category, improvements with fertilizers, growth formulas, additives, enhancers and preservatives.

We shouldn't forget genetically "enhanced" products which prove you can fool mother nature?

Charleston Daily Mail Columnist, Dave Peyton, while writing about solving the Worker's Comp deficit in a recent column, mentioned one of the best lines about the future from the old movie "Zardox," which might apply here - "I have seen the future, and it doesn't work."

Progress, innovation, computerization, uncivil liberties, technical revolution, instant news, altered states, birth and death control, talking heads, brain-washing messages - and unreal food.

2009 Postscript: Buzz Butter Steaks, following the closure of the plant, have been resurrected in full force and are served at Charleston ball games and again available in some stores.


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