Throwback Thursday: Butter, Boston, and Bibb lettuce: What’s the Difference?


Grower-Pete's-Organic-Butter-Lettuce According to market research and retail data juggernaut Nielsen, sales for Butter/Boston lettuce is growing three times faster than the entire lettuce category.  Given this enthusiastic demand, we thought now might be a good time to revisit a throw-back blog post and perennial favorite since its debut in 2014:  Butter, Boston, and Bibb lettuce: What’s the Difference?

There’s no doubt these varieties look and taste alike. Ostensibly, they are the same variety known by the category moniker: Butterhead. However, there are a few distinct differences.

Bibb lettuce is a slightly darker and smaller version of the variety. It is believed to have originated in Kentucky sometime between 1865-1870 by Major John “Jack” Bibb. Around 1870, he began sharing his variety with the town’s people who coined it Bibb’s lettuce.

One notable difference between Bibb and Boston are Boston’s leaves are wider and lighter in color than Bibb’s. One would think the eponymous lettuce was first grown in the city of Boston, but there is no record of where it first emerged. Though one source notes that Boston Lettuce has been grown in Florida since the 1920s before it became a prevalent crop across North America.

Modern day Butter lettuce, like ours, seems to have originated from the old lettuce known as Silesia. This variety dates as far back as 1744, but it didn’t receive its modern Butter lettuce name until much later. A company called Slazers began selling it by the deceptive name German Butter lettuce, alluding it was a new variety to increase sales.

RootsWhile it’s difficult to corroborate the accuracy of these historical accounts, we can say for certain that Butter, Boston and Bibb lettuce can be used interchangeably, given their similar textures and flavor profiles. Possessing smooth, tender yet strong leaves, and a mild sweet flavor, Butterhead lettuce is an ideal ingredient for salads, sandwiches, soups, smoothies and wraps. And, unlike Iceberg, it’s packed with essential nutrients and vitamins, particularly A, C and K.

At Hollandia Produce, all of our living butter lettuce products, including our certified organic brand Grower Pete’s, are hydroponically greenhouse-grown and harvested with their roots intact. This promotes a clean growing environment and longer lasting freshness than field grown varieties.

Whether you call it, Butter, Boston or Bibb lettuce, we encourage you to pick up our Living Butter Lettuce at your local grocery store, and include it in your next meal. Snap a photo of your Living Butter Lettuce meal then share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag us @LiveGourmet.