I'm writing this while under the influence of semilegal marijuana. Mostly to replicate my state of mind from multiple weekends ago. I'd gathered a group of coworkers at my North Oakland home to test a single-use kitchen gadget called the Magical Butter
, and doing so required that we get high.
Basically, it's a high-tech weed butter maker.
Testing a device that looks something akin to an electric water kettle isn't a daily occurrence at Engadget, but Magical Butter claims to be "the world's only botanical extractor." It boasts "fully automatic, microprocessor-controlled program sequences," an "integrated digital thermostat and sensors" for "laboratory-grade temperature control" and something called "Digital Fire Technology." Basically, it's a high-tech weed butter maker.
Both Washington and Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana; New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd chronicled a candy bar-induced psychedelic freakout, while the paper called for an end to pot prohibition; and Wired's Mat Honan likened the rapid growth in weed-related startups to the Gold Rush in an article entitled "High Tech." This is the time for a technologically advanced "botanical extractor," if there ever was one. And given our position as a trusted voice in consumer electronics reviews, we considered it our duty, nay, our calling to put it to the test.
The day's adventures started at the grocery store. First, we needed butter -- lots of butter. The standard Magical Butter recipe calls for four to 10 sticks and four to eight grams of "botanicals" per stick. Since our local grocer doesn't carry the sorts of "botanicals" called for in this recipe (you know, the sort that comes in quotation marks), we obtained some the night before. The only other ingredient necessary was lecithin, a binding agent that we somehow forgot in our frenzy to amass munchies for the post-"botanical" comedown.
Compared to the manual alternative, making Magical Butter in "the world's only botanical extractor" is a lot less messy and a whole hell of a lot less smelly.
Back at the house, we unpacked the groceries and popped a bottle of champagne. Nothing goes better with "botanicals" than champagne. Then we got to grinding, which took an extraordinarily long time due to the density of our "botanicals." Unfortunately, we failed to notice the ALL CAPS print at the bottom of the recipe that read "FOR BEST RESULTS DO NOT PRE-GRIND BOTANICALS." We did, however, "adjust botanical weights according to personal preference," in an effort to avoid any Dowd-style meltdowns.
Meanwhile, we looked into lecithin substitutes, which, according to Livestrong.com (yes, it still exists), can be replaced with eggs since they contain naturally occurring lecithin in their yolks. From there, the process was pretty simple. We plugged the Magical Butter machine in and then dropped four sticks of butter, an untold amount of "botanicals" and an egg into the stainless steel pitcher and reattached the lid, which is equipped with a commercial immersion blender. As instructed, we set the temperature control to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and selected the "2 Hours/Butter" setting. Moments later, the machine beeped and a ring of multicolored LEDs lit the rim of the lid, indicating that things were operating according to plan.
For the next two hours or so, six adult human beings stood around my kitchen drinking champagne, watching a very small-scale LED light show and discussing the finer points of manual botanical extraction. As we noted the relative lack of odor coming from the machine, which boasts a "ScentLock Lid," it alternated between a gentle purr and a sound appropriately reminiscent of an immersion blender. A subtle, but steady stream of steam escaped as we, having underestimated the time necessary to churn Magical Butter, dipped into the Flamin' Hot Cheetos Puffs, gnawed on powdery doughnuts and emptied a few bottles of Rosé.
The substance wasn't the bright green concoction pictured in the promotional material; instead we ended up with what looked like a mass of runny baby poop.
Compared to the manual alternative, making Magical Butter in "the world's only botanical extractor" is a lot less messy and a whole hell of a lot less smelly. That is, until it's time to separate the botanicals from the butter. Once the infusion was done, the machine beeped a couple of times, beckoning us to what we'd all been waiting for. One of my colleagues slipped on the love glove (a neon green oven mitt) and popped the lid off the pitcher. What we saw was, well, disgusting. The substance wasn't the bright green concoction pictured in the promotional material; instead we ended up with what looked like a mass of runny baby poop. Did that stop us from digging in? Hell no.
We strained out the murky bits, leaving behind a lump of something that brought the words "lung butter" to mind. The end result was a nearly clear, subtle-tasting butter. It smelled, looked and tasted better than any "botanical" butter I'd ever had, but as anyone who's eaten the stuff will tell you, it should not be eaten alone. So we whipped up some homemade brownie batter, poured it in a Pyrex pan, threw it in the preheated oven and set about plowing through a platter of artisanal cheeses and meats. While we waited, we gave the machine's self-cleaning function a try. It works something like throwing hot water and dish soap in a blender and turning the thing on. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to free the baked green egg we'd cooked up in the process.
When the brownie bell tolled, it was time to test the Magical Butter machine's ultimate claim. Could it, as advertised, alleviate us of our dependency on pharmaceuticals? We each took a brownie that fit our perceived tolerance and sat down to watch what I estimate to be the perfect movie for such an occasion: Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby.
If you were expecting oddball high jinks and adventure to ensue, you've probably never gotten high with a collection of 30-something tech journalists.
To its credit, that particular film (if it can be called a film) is enough to make even the most seasoned burner feel like they're tripping, but about an hour in, it was clear that our new butter machine was working its magic. Unfortunately, it wasn't all bleary eyes and uncontrollable giggles. In fact, if you were expecting oddball high jinks and adventure to ensue, you've probably never gotten high with a collection of 30-something tech journalists.
Reactions ranged from disappointed to comatose, but the final verdict was that it worked. For my part, I spent the rest of the evening trying to keep my eyes open while a pair of our senior-most colleagues worked their way through what remained of the Flamin' Hot Cheetos, Cracker Jacks and gummy things, and eventually moved on to ordering pizza. I vaguely recall playing Mario Kart 8 and sucking at it, while one of our coworkers spent the evening glued to his phone collecting high heels or selfies or whatever in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. (For the record, he claims he's still never been stoned.) Another editor didn't fully feel the magic until he got in an Uber to head home, at which point he became antisocial and paranoid, convinced that his driver was taking him for a ride. At least three of us woke up stoned the next day.
So is the Magical Butter machine a must-have for green gadget connoisseurs? As someone who only partakes in edibles about twice a year and has no intention of making his own lotions or essential oils (other apparent uses for the machine), $175 dollars is a lot to ask for a single-use kitchen appliance. If you ask me, you'd have to be high to buy one of these things. But isn't that the point?