As students and faculty milled around a line of tables in front of Hornbake Library, an entry arrived on one table's end. It consisted of a lone hot dog inside a glass vessel. The informational sheet placed in front of the creation soon revealed it was a "Frank in Stein."
The fifth annual Edible Book Festival took place Monday directly in front of the Hornbake Library steps. Sponsored by Friends of the Libraries, the event challenges participants to construct book-related food creations to be judged by university students, staff and faculty.
At 1 p.m., the sun shone on a long row of entries, mostly of the pun variety. "Kit Kat and the Hat," "Chicken Tender is the Night" and "Fantastic Beets and Where to Find Them," were just a few of the entries that had a chance to win in one of five categories: best structure, wittiest, most appetizing, least appetizing and best in show.
Jen Wachtel, a history and library science graduate student, stood analyzing the entries, ballot in hand.
"I'm really torn between 'Catsup in the Rye' and 'Frank in Stein,'" she said. "'The Man in the Pie Castle' is also pretty good."
Participants and volunteers in bright blue shirts hung around the tables, handing out ballots and enjoying the sun. One of them was Aaron Ginoza, a member of the university's libraries communications team.
"[This event] is a fun way to get people out on a nice day, enjoying bad puns and literature jokes," Ginoza said.
When asked if he had entered something, he chuckled and nodded.
"Mine's right here," he said, turning around a partially dismembered orange on a paper plate labeled "The Art of the Peel."
None of it would have been possible without Eric Cartier, a digital librarian at this university who discovered the idea for the festival while working for the University of Texas at Austin.
"The Edible Book Festival is an international festival that mostly takes place at libraries, schools [and] community centers," he said. "When I came here to start working I was like, 'How are [we] not doing this?'"
Cartier was floored by this year's participation and the enthusiasm from students and faculty.
"This is the most successful year yet," he said. "We have … more than 30 entries."
Did this Edible Book Festival veteran have an entry? Of course he did.
"This being my seventh consecutive one, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel," he said.
Inspired by Emily Dickinson's poem This Was A Poet — It Is That, Cartier's creation consisted of a tiny piece of blueberry pastry on a plate labeled, "This Was A Donut."
"I think what's cool about this year is that everybody just upped their game," he said. "Everybody loves puns, everybody loves food, everybody loves books."