Au Cao - CA

We founded Au Cao in 2022 to create innovative, beautiful, utilitarian home goods to save time and improve day-to-day tasks. Au Cao's “ButterBox” re-envisions a process done billions of times a day: the simple task of applying butter to food and cooking surfaces. The ButterBox is a patented vertical butter holder and spreader that takes up less space and eliminates the need for a butter knife. 

We bootstrapped the business during a time when global supply chains were struggling and inflation was impacting everything from raw materials to shipping. This made adjusting our goals to work with the current economy particularly challenging. In particular, we needed to use heat-tolerant + food safe materials, which made the overall cost of production much higher. Since we are a small family business our volume is much lower than our competitors, which was another factor that increased our per-unit cost of production. When making the final decision about what materials to use for our first product, we weighed the benefits for customers and for our brand, and realized that striving for the highest quality materials and manufacturing was key to our long term success.

We’ve been fortunate to benefit from positive organic social marketing, and a recent social piece alerted us to an important ButterBox consideration we were unaware of:

For people with Celiac Disease, exposure to wheat gluten is harmful. Our product is airtight and eliminates the need for a knife to spread butter. This means the ButterBox can help households with gluten free members by mitigating the possibility of exposure because of wheat gluten cross contamination.

As it turns out, the ButterBox has unique features that can help mitigate exposure to wheat gluten. First, it’s air-tight seal and upright form factor enables storage outside of the butter drawer – and away from other butter dishes and crumbs. Second, since the ButterBox is also a stand-alone butter spreader that eliminates the need for a butter knife, it removes the possibility that a butter knife will carry gluten from one task or person to the next. 

We knew that our design would enable people to enjoy butter more often, and to easily limit and control the amount of butter used, which seemed like a great way to balance taste and health considerations. When we recently learned that our patented ButterBox has a distinct combination of features that can help protect people with allergies to wheat gluten, we dove deep to learn more and to engage the community. We’re hopeful that we’re a contender for the Barclay Small Business Big Wins Grant because it will enable us to bolster our marketing to this important community, and to deepen the impact of the Au Cao ButterBox.
Au Cao