Mason’s Second Edible Book Festival was a treat

Event held in Fenwick Library came back for seconds


Leigh Norman / Fourth Estate

Attendees gathered around a cursed tome from the Harry Potter book series. Its tongue curled and its eyes glittered. True to its name card, it was a magical monstrosity. A student snapped off the tongue and popped it into her mouth. The other guests waited, plates in hand. They, like the Edible Book Festival, were back for seconds. 

On Oct. 11, Fenwick Library celebrated the second Edible Book Festival during the Fall for the Book weekend. Last semester, the festival drew in over 100 spectators. This year, over 200 community members, students and staff attended. 

The Edible Book Festival was created in 2000 by The festival’s founders, Béatrice Coron and Judith A. Hoffberg, were inspired by French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Combining Books2Eat’s love of books and food, the site created a festival based on edible, book-inspired creations. Other universities like the University of Florida and Duke University also participate in the celebration. 

Last year, Mason’s festival was held on April 1, Books2Eat’s international celebration date. The event was such a success that it was offered again this semester. The festival featured 10 book-inspired entries. 

Submissions were due by Oct. 1, and had to be both edible and book related. Any person could enter the festival, regardless of age or connection to Mason. The “Harry Potter” tome was actually a vanilla bean cake styled with modeling chocolate. Another entry, a cake based on “The Tale of Despereaux,” was made by an eight-year-old. 

Sophomore pre-nursing major Hannah Campbell entered her Beautiful Creaturescake. She said, “I just felt it like it would be fun.” She and her friend worked together to create the dessert.

Prizes were available for the entrants. The categories were People’s Choice, Punniest, Most Creative, Most Visually Appealing, Best Representation of a Book, and Best Display of Technical Skill. Judges entered before spectators to assess the entries. 

For the people’s choice prize, spectators voted for their favorite creation. The entries needed to stay intact while voting occurred. Treats from Argo Tea tided guests over until 12:30 p.m., when the entries were allowed to be wolfed down.

Amy Sullivan, head of preservation services and preservation librarian, coordinated the event. During the event, she only operated the front table, but spent months organizing sponsors, treats and prizes for the event. 

Sullivan was blown away by the response from the community. “The number of attendees, the interest in future[Edible Book Festivals] and the creativity of the entrants were all beyond my expectations,” she said. She also acknowledged the work the Argo Tea team and library preservation assistants did in order to make the festival possible. 

Sullivan is looking forward to holding another Edible Book Festival during the spring semester. More details will come as the date approaches. 

Sullivan is not alone in her bookish brainstorming. Several onlookers at the event were fascinated. One attendee took pictures of the “Tale of Despereaux” cake to show her 7-year-old sister, who may enter the next competition. Sophomore information systems and operations management major Jordan Colley walked in for the “cake thing,” but left asking about next year’s festival. 

All snacks and entries were devoured before the festival’s 2 p.m. closing. From the lemon chiffon “Pie, Cloudious” to the brown sugar “Gaston’s No-Belle Prize,” Mason’s second Edible Book Festival was a rousing success. 

Soon, it will be back for thirds.