The Sweet Sustenance of Stories: The annual Edible Book Contest returns to MSU in a flurry of fun and frosting

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar display made entirely out of vegetables? A bloody Julius Caesar cake that won Most Humorous under a flurry of red frosting? The “Grapes of Math,” made up of pieces of yogurt rolled into balls and added together? These are all submissions that have won awards at the RCAH Center for Poetry Edible Book Contest.

Photo by Holly Bronson

The International Edible Book Festival is an annual event held around the beginning of April in honor of Edible Book Day on April 1. Traditionally, the creations are entered into the contest, judged and then consumed by the audience and participants. The event was started by Judith Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron in 2000 in order to commemorate the birthday of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French chef famous for his book about what he called a “witty meditation on food.”

All eligible books must be mostly, if not all, edible, and have to be inspired by a work of literature or a literary concept. It does not need to be a dessert as long as it is food of some sort, although cake is the most common form. Since the contest takes place on or near April Fools’ Day, there are often pun-based cakes as well.

The Center for Poetry at Michigan State University’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities has hosted one of these events for the past nine years, and has been quite popular. Even though it’s sponsored by RCAH, the contest is open for anyone with a love of both the written and the culinary arts.

“I really like the Edible Book Contest,” said Hannah Warren, a senior majoring in RCAH and English who has attended the event the past few years. She also entered a
Holes-based cake in the contest two years ago that won Most Edible. “I like the creativity, ingenuity and sheer genius it takes to make some of these products. It builds up a relationship between people and their love of books.”

Photo by Holly Bronson

RCAH professor Anita Skeen agrees. “It’s an event that brings together people from all across campus and from the community,” said Skeen. “In many ways, it’s an appreciation of books, art and delicious edibles.”

This year, the RCAH Center for Poetry event took place in the Snyder-Phillips Hall LookOut! Gallery! on March 30 with Pam Newsted, the RCAH Academic Secretary, serving as this year’s judge. Winners were announced in the categories of Grand Prize/Best in Show, Most Literary, Most Creative, Most Edible and Most Humorous.

Whether you like to read, bake or do both, the Edible Book Contest is guaranteed to be a great time! Check out the MSU event information at



Holly Bronson is a senior studying professional writing and arts and humanities, with a minor in peace and justice studies. In her rare free time, she loves to drink Earl Grey tea while thoroughly analyzing Harry Potter and telling lengthy stories from her various adventures around the globe. 🙂 Check out her portfolio at!


Tags: cake, edible book contest, event, food, Holly Bronson, MSU, poetry, writing