Ashlyn Stewart with her winning entry "Around the World in Seventy-Two Dates." (Photos by Lee Pellegrini)

A festival of tasteful titles

Lovers of literature, pastry, and puns "bake" their way to BC's eighth Edible Books Festival

From “Goodnight Moon Pies” to “The Butter Battle Bar,” it was a feast of literary-themed displays and ironically-named baked goods on display for Boston College's eighth Edible Books Festival.

A takeoff on the cover of "Goodnight Moon," changed to "Goodnight Moon Pies" with moon pie cakes next to it

"Goodnight Moon Pies" (O'Neill Library's Steve Runge)

This year’s event, the first at BC since 2019, was held in O'Neill Library lobby on April 3, and featured 15 submissions from teams and individuals within the BC community. Like the two titles cited above—inspired by Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon and The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss—each entry portrayed a “punny” reference to a book, poem, story, or other form of literature and, as the festival name implies, was comestible.

The Edible Books Festival was pioneered by book artist Judith Hoffberg in 1999 and is a worldwide event that takes place on or around April 1 as a memorial to French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, most widely known for his book Physiologie du gout, or “the physiology of taste.” April 1 is the birthday of Brillat-Savarin, but as the Edible Books Festival’s official website notes, “April Fool’s Day is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them.”

a heart-shaped cake with black frosting for "Heart of Darkness"

"Heart of Darkness"

Associate University Librarian Scott Britton spearheaded the event at BC in 2013 after having participated in the festival for four years at the University of Miami. “Events like this are important because they make the library a silly place and more accessible for students,” said Britton, whose own concotion this year was a "Heart of Darkness" cake inspired by the work of the same name by Joseph Conrad.

Books that tend to show up at the festival every year include Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and Lord of the Flies by William Golding, noted Britton. “We had ‘Lord of the Fries’ here one year,” he laughed.

“This is one of my favorite annual events, especially since food celebrations took a hiatus during COVID,” said Burns Library Conservation and Preservation Manager Nora Dempsey, who prior to BC had participated in the international event at Harvard, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago.

a globe-shaped melon covered with dates on toothpicks

"Around the World in 72 Dates."

This year’s winner was Digital Scholarship Specialist Ashlyn Stewart for her “Around the World in 72 Dates,” a honey-dew melon decorated as the Earth with dates poking out from its every angle—an inspiration drawn from Nellie Bly’s Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.

“It was a lot harder to make than I thought it was going to be; it took about three hours to do,” said Stewart, who was awarded a maroon apron for her future culinary endeavors.

the "grapes of wrap" entry

"The Grapes of Wrap"

Runner-up was Associate Director of Graduate Financial Aid Marsia Hill Kreaime for “Grapes of Wrap,” a cream-filled croissant and grape dish riffing on John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

An eager crowd gathered soon after the voting to sample this year’s entries, including past winner Sherm Homan, who said she was “just there for fun.” In addition to her 2014 winning entry “Betty Crocker’s Cooked Book”—a cake decorated to appear as a cookbook—Homan teamed with Student Services Associate Director Linda Malenfant to win the 2016 BC festival with “Cryano de Bergerac,” a parody of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. For this display, Bergerac, in cake form, sat in a bathtub-shaped igloo of his tears, heartbroken over his love interest, Roxane.

Homan was satisfied with her decision to try “Banana Crêperenina,” inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. “I’ve been eyeing the banana crêpe display ever since I got here, and let me just say it is fantastic.”

Find more about the Edible Books Festival at the BC Libraries website