June 28

The Hell Of Food That Looks Like Other Food (Part 1)


On this date in Graysonville, Alabama, seven years earlier, Randall Haines actually won the food competition.

He wasn’t part of the eating contests — where people would stuff excessive numbers of hot dogs or pizza slices into their faces while the stopwatch ticked…or where people ate dog food or cat food, or crunched pan-fried crickets, or slurped up earthworms as if they were spaghetti.  No, Randall was one of the artists.

The goal, in his chosen category, was not to produce the best-tasting pie or BBQ pork or corn pudding.  His challenge was more in the vein of sculpture:  shaping food items to represent other objects.  In previous years, competitors had made buildings out of crackers and cheese; a Christmas wreath of white chocolate leaves, tinted with green dye; or they formed human faces out of lunch meat, with olives for eyes and red peppers arranged into smiling lips.

The winners of the food-sculpting competition, however, were usually those who made one food item look like another.  Rice was popular, with different food coloring added to simulate (for example) a gray hamburger patty, the sesame seed bun, tomato and lettuce and a red-rice drip of ketchup.  A pate mixture worked like clay, and could be fashioned into a turkey leg or a glistening T-bone steak.  Cakes shaped like a fish and chips dinner or a bowl of salad were also very popular with judges over the years.

The time Randall won, he’d submitted a large three-dimensional facsimile of the USDA food pyramid, with the represented food groups all depicted using items from a different category. The dairy items were all sculpted out of vegetables, with ground cauliflower creating the liquid in a glass of milk, and a potato sliced and dyed to look like wedges of swiss cheese.  The fruit group items were made from meat, with tiny meatballs meticulously linked to form a bunch of grapes, a pale hot dog forming the inside of a peeled banana.  And so on…

It was a memorable favorite with the crowd and judges alike, an elaborate production that showcased Randall’s ability to simulate all kinds of food.

His skill came in handy, once the apocalypse struck…


[…continued tomorrow…]