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How Universal’s Butterbeer Season could be bigger than Knott’s Boysenberry Festival

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Universal Studios Hollywood and Knott’s Berry Farm have been going head-to-severed-head during Halloween for decades and now the theme park titans are clashing over signature flavors during dueling food festivals: Butterbeer and Boysenberry.

The first-ever Butterbeer Season is now underway through April 30 at Universal Studios Hollywood. The annual Knott’s Boysenberry Festival continues through April 28 at the Buena Park theme park.

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Butterbeer Season brings a few new items to the menu featuring the signature flavor of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

There’s a new Butterbeer soft serve at Florean Fortescue’s ice cream counter — which took over the former Zonko’s Joke Shop.

The new Butterbeer Ice Lolly — what muggles would call a Popsicle — will show up later during the two-month long run of Butterbeer Season.

The new items join an ever-growing line-up of Butterbeer-flavored foods and drinks at Universal that include fudge, potted cream and hard ice cream. That’s all in addition to the four versions of the Butterbeer beverage served cold, frozen, hot or nondairy.

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I love Butterbeer. So much that I’d drive 40 miles just to sip one. The creamy foam top mixes perfectly with the butterscotch and shortbread sweetness of the drink. I’m never happier than when I have a Butterbeer mustache while gazing up at the snow capped roofs of Hogsmeade village.

I’m also a big fan of Boysenberry on almost anything — which is why I always enjoy it when the Boysenberry Festival returns each spring at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and Knott’s Scary Farm battle every year over October supremacy. Now it looks like Universal’s Butterbeer Season has the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival in its crosshairs as well.

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Butterbeer and Boysenberry have a lot of similarities. They are both distinct tastes that serve as signature flavors for each theme park. They also pair well with a variety of foods and drinks.

Knott’s offers more than 75 unique Boysenberry recipes during the festival and comes up with dozens of new dishes every year.

Universal is just getting started with Butterbeer Season, but it’s easy to see how the Universal culinary team could dream up a host of new Butterbeer dishes to roll out with future festivals.

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I tried all the Butterbeer offerings during a media event at Universal on Thursday, April 4.

The potted cream had the most intense Butterbeer flavor of anything on the menu. It’s like injecting Butterbeer directly into your veins. Way too intense for me. It left me wondering if there was such a thing as too much Butterbeer. Never a good thought to have at the beginning of a Butterbeer Season tasting session.

The soft serve Butterbeer was just the opposite of the potted cream. The taste was so subtle as to be almost absent. The golden Butterbeer swirls looked beautiful in the twists of soft serve, but they didn’t deliver much of a punch beyond the vanilla base.

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I felt the same way about the Butterbeer fudge. I was expecting an overwhelming Butterbeer taste and I found myself searching for the flavors. What I got in the two-toned chunk was a little cream taste from the lighter top and a hint of shortbread from the pinkish bottom.

My favorite Butterbeer drink is the original cold version — it has just the right consistency of flavors. I feel like I’ve stepped into a Harry Potter movie every time I take a sip.

The frozen Butterbeer is basically a Slurpee version — which means the flavor consistency changes with every strawful. Plus it gave me a brain freeze.

I tried the hot Butterbeer for the first time and it burned my tongue — so I don’t need to do that again. It tasted like melted Butterbeer ice cream.

The nondairy version of Butterbeer is a nice option for those who need it — but I prefer the original topping. The nondairy topping tends to curdle on the hot Butterbeer — so it works better on the cold and frozen versions.

While Universal has slowly expanded the Butterbeer menu over the years, the new Butterbeer Season will force the park’s culinary team to consider new ways to introduce Butterbeer into existing and new dishes and drinks in the coming years.

The Three Broomsticks menu in Wizarding World offers a good place to start when the time comes to introduce more Butterbeer flavors to the festival.

Butterbeer potatoes and/or Butterbeer sausage would go perfect with the Bangers & Mash. Knott’s offers plenty of Boysenberry potato and sausage options.

I’d love to taste Butterbeer-battered Fish & Chips with some powdered Butterbeer seasoning sprinkled on the French fries. A Butterbeer dip for the fries might be going too far — but I’d definitely try it.

It would be pretty easy to bake some Butterbeer flavor into the crust of the Shepherd’s Pie, blend Butterbeer into the Mac ‘n’ Cheese or stir it into the pancake batter on the English Breakfast menu.

I’m sure the Universal chefs could mix some Butterbeer into the barbecue sauce on the Spare Ribs Platter. Knott’s puts Boysenberry barbecue sauce on everything.

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Going beyond the basics could be tricky for Universal — which gets guidance on every detail in Wizarding World from Warner Brothers and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

Knott’s doesn’t have any such restrictions — and comes up with all sorts of wild Boysenberry concoctions every year. Some of them work and some of them don’t.

I could see a Butterbeer coffee working great. I’m less certain about a Butterbeer Burger. I definitely don’t want to try a Butterbeer lemonade — Eww!

The coming years will reveal whether Butterbeer Season was a one-off event or becomes an annual food festival to rival Knott’s Berry Farm’s Boysenberry dominance. Time will tell if the bloody battle between Universal and Knott’s each October extends into a sticky food fight every April.

Universal would likely win that fight too — and could expand the Butterbeer Season food festival to its parks around the globe. That’s something Cedar Fair can’t do with the Boysenberry phenomenon — which is distinctly tied to Knott’s history and culture.

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