Edible Book Festival presents books so good you can eat them

Jaws by Sue Searing

By Annabeth Carlson

What do the titles “Life of Pi,” “Lord of the Flies” and “The Ugly Duckling” all have in common? Yes, they are books, but they were all also exhibited in last year’s Edible Book Festival.

The annual festival, sponsored by the University Library and University YMCA, brings together book lovers, food lovers and artists to create “edible books.” These creations, which are made of all types of food, can be inspired by stories, shapes of books, puns and more.

Last year’s “Lord of the Flies” entry, for example, was named “The Lord of the Fries” and consisted of a plate of fries covered in ketchup.

Daniel Tracy, festival coordinator and visiting professor of library and information science, said people bring in their submissions to be judged and photographed, and then the public is welcomed in to view and eat the edible books for free.

“It is amazing the talent people bring to this and the kinds of things that people do,” Tracy said.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Now in its ninth year, the festival will take place on Tuesday, April 1 at the University YMCA. Public viewing is set to begin at 11:30 a.m.

The 2014 festival award categories include: Best Depiction of a Classic, Best Visual Presentation, Most Appetizing, Funniest/Punniest, Best Entry Based on Book for Children or Teens, Best Collaborative Creation, People’s Choice,” and this year’s rotating special category, Best Entry Based on a Banned Book.

Tracy said the winners of these categories will receive prizes, such as books and mugs from Espresso Royale.

“They are nothing too big, because (the festival) is really for fun,” Tracy said.

He also said that judges can make up categories on the spot for entries they really like but do not fit into any of the existing categories.

This year’s judges are Donna Hacker Smith, a Lutheran pastor and book lover; Eric Woller, an extreme cake artist and owner of MeMe’s Treat Boutique in St. Joseph, Ill.; and Paul Young, the graphic design director at Parkland College and treasurer of the Champaign-Urbana Design Organization.

Young said he plans to use his graphic design expertise and love for cooking when looking at the entries.

“I think I am the ideal candidate. … I am comfortable in making judgements,” Young said.

His favorite part of the festival is appreciating what the edible book chefs create.

“I think chefs are the most creative people,” he said. “A chef has to create something that communicates to all of the senses.”

As for Tracy’s favorite part, he said it is hard to decide between looking at the entries and eating them.

Masood Haque, senior in LAS, said he is interested in attending the festival.

“It’s cool to see how people get creative with the things they love,” he said.

Haque said he would like to see the book “Fahrenheit 451” turned into edible art. The novel discusses books being burned, so Haque said if he were the artist, he would make a cake shaped like a charred book. However, not all of the entries should be taken as literal representations of the books. 

“People should come if they have a sense of humor, and most people do,” Tracy said. “It is a great, fun time, and you really get to enjoy the sense of humor that people brought to making the entries, and, of course, it is just fun to eat the food, too.”

Young also said attendants of the festival will be exposed to a unique experience.

“It is unusual and different, and when something is unusual and different, humans should pay attention to that,” Young said.

Annabeth can be reached at [email protected].