Literature Feeds the Soul: RCAH Center for Poetry holds annual edible literary competition

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Monday, April 11, 2016, 7:00 am
Ashley Carlini


For many book lovers, the idea of writing in a book is simply cringe-worthy, but how about eating one?

April 1st marked national Edible Book Day, in which organizations around the country hosted an Edible Book Contest. On March 31st the RCAH Center for Poetry held their 8th competition in the LookOut Gallery of Snyder-Phillips Hall, on the MSU campus. The only requirment of this contest is that whatever a contestant creates, it must be edible and related to literature.

There were eleven entries this year, some created by MSU students and some by faculty.  The Edible Book Contest caters to every literary taste, and appeals not just to book lovers but to foodies. There are five categories: Most Edible, Most Literate, Most Creative, The Funniest, and Best in Show. Each winner received a book as a prize and bragging rights for the next year.

Laurie Hollinger wins the title of Most Literary for her Velveeta Rabbit entry.

Laurie Hollinger, Assistant Director for the Center for Poetry, entered the competition and won the title of Most Literary for her entry The Velveeta Rabit. A clever take on The Velveteen Rabit, her entry was made mostly out of…Velveeta cheese. “Every year I go through lists of books, like the 100 best books. It just occurred to me that The Velveteen Rabit is a well known book, and Velveeta cheese is an easy medium. I also have a blantant love for puns,” Hollinger explained.

Professor Anita Skeen, Director of the Center for Poetry, says MSU has been holding the competition since 2008. “We do this for the National Edible Book Day on April 1st, however legistically most people aren’t in the building on a Friday and so we had it the day before,” she explained. The competition has grown so much over the years that they have had to move it to the LookOut art gallery as it provides a bigger space. “We have somebody different judge the competition every year. In the past we have had visiting artists judge, as well as different RCAH staff members.”

Skeen, who also teaches the Harry Potter class in the RCAH, inspired students from her class to create three of the eleven entries, all Potter-related. Students Zoe Schubot, Emily Riesterer, Sydney Meadowcroft, and Dani Dillion created The Sorting Hat with a spin to reflect their house. Emily Riesterer explained the creative process,  “we used a marble cake for the base, which reflects the yellow and black of the Hufflepuff House, and then we used rice crispies to create the shape of the hat because it is easily moldable. We covered it with chocolate fondant and then painted the fondant scrolls with caligraphy to represent all of the houses.” Despite their efforts, their entry didn’t win one of the five awards.

The Sorting Hat entry in the process of being made (photo courtesy of Zoe Schubot)

Completed Sorting Hat cake.

This year Carol Cole, the HR and Budget Director for the RCAH, was asked by the Center of Poetry to judge the competition. “People are so amazingly creative, it’s what the RCAH is all about,” Carol said with a smile. She had the tough job of choosing the winners, having to literally judge a book by its cover. “I want to give everybody a prize because everybody really deserves it” laughed Cole.

The 2016 winners are:

Most Literary: The Velveeta Rabit by Laurie Hollinger

Most Humourous: Grapes of Wrath, Math and Bath by Joi Whitten

Most Edible: Espresso Patronum Cauldrom Cakes by Katie Wittenauer

Most Creative: The Hungry Caterpillar by Marissa Sundin

Best in Show: Pandora’s Lunchbox by the Counter Cuisine Club

When asked what her favorite part of the contest is, Hollinger said it was, “seeing the range of entries and the variety of ideas folks come up with. From year to year you may see books return, but it’s never done quite the same way.”

RCAH Seniors Emily Riesterer and Nicole Sherman start to cut into the cakes

While it is fun to see the entries, the best part of the event may come at the end, when contestants and observers are encouraged to dismantle and eat the entries.

You can refer to for more information on the RCAH Center for Poetry and other events they host throughout the year. © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info