The Luxemburg-based European Court of Justice ruled this week a product the Czechs call butter is not butter, which means that the beloved spread known as "pomazankove maslo" (“spreadable butter”) can no longer be labeled as such.
Non-Czechs would never have called it butter, which it bears no resemblance to – it doesn’t even really look like margarine. As chives, horseradish and paprika are often added to it, many would argue it was more like cream cheese.
But butter purists will be happy to learn the discussion is now moot, at least in the EU, because officially butter now has to contain at least 80% milk fat while the Czech spread doesn’t even contain 30% – the rest is sour cream and milk powder.
To say that the Czechs are not amused is an understatement: their take on the low-cost spread that has been produced since 1977 is that it is a "regional specialty." On average, every Czech consumes a kilo of it annually. Some 10,000 tons of it are produced every year – big business that the Bohemian-Moravian Dairy Product Association now perceives as threatened.
So now after years of legal wrangling with Brussels, it’s going to have to come up for a new name for the product -- "mlecna pomazanka," perhaps: it sounds similar to the old name and means something akin to “milk spread.”
Czech patriots, meanwhile, see the legal defeat as Czech culture being sold down the river to Brussels.
And their travails don’t end there. There’s also the matter of Czech rum distilled from grain and not -- as EU bureaucrats demand for the protected designation that is rum -- sugar cane.
No more "Tuzemsky Rum" is to be seen at liquor stores in the Czech Republic: only "Tuzemak."
These legalities "take bureaucracy to new heights,” one irate Czech citizen commented on the Internet. "The EU concerns itself with nonsense," grumbled another.