Thursday, January 6, 2005

replica food - today's history lesson

The fake or replica food phenomena is bigger than I originally thought. When I started this post it was mainly for Denise, who is something of an expert, but I ended up genuinely interested in the origins and new techniques out there. Ok so here go the links. There are a number of sites where people showcase and sell their own designs, such as Leelee’s creations. I also found instructions on making a candle that looks like a mug of hot chocolate. Well I’m sure the mug is actually real.

Anyway while researching this I found that the origins of replica food are Japanese:

"In the Meiji era at the end of the 19th century, Japanese restaurant-goers were frequently confounded by the strange new Western cuisines flooding into the country. Even with Japanese translations of menu items, most guests had no idea what they were ordering. To help, many restaurants took the expensive and space-consuming means of preparing samples for their customers to peruse. To cut costs, some restaurants provided elaborate drawings or photos. But these one-dimensional presentations did not pique many appetites. The Meiji era slowly gave way to Taisho and then to Showa with little change.

Enter an entrepreneur from Gifu. Takizo Iwasaki was a young man bent on making an impact in the business world. By 1926 -- the first year of Showa -- Iwasaki had yet to find his niche. So he left Gifu for Osaka in search of his fortune. Life was hard for Iwasaki in Osaka as well until one day -- perhaps while eating a rice omelet in a crowded lunch shop -- something clicked in his imagination. He remembered the wax models of the human body on display at most Japanese apothecaries and the wax fruit and vegetables used in school nutrition classes and thought: "Why not!"
Iwasaki hurried back to his cramped apartment and -- after days of trial and error -- finally perfected a wax model of a rice omelet. Other models followed. Then he loaded them on his bicycle to see if any shops would buy his replica food. To his joy, they all did.
Even among imitators, success leads to imitation, and Iwasaki soon had competitors across Japan. Yet the company he founded in his Osaka apartment -- Iwasaki Be-I -- remains the largest purveyor of replica food to this day".


People lucky enough to actually go to Japan and see this for themselves have
shared their experiences and fascination with replica food.

The market is huge in Japan and many are trying bring it world wide. Apparently the
market is a little tougher to crack in the western world, but thanks to web based businesses you can get some fake sushi of your very own. So whether you’ll buy it or make it, try to bring some fake food into your life. I have a fake chocolate that is part of my collage mirror frame (a Denise Grant original). This is only the beginning.

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