Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting Mr Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and sampling the delights of the edible room, the chocolate river, and the (dangerously delicious) blueberry chewing gum? Thanks to Edible Cinema and their latest appearance at The Science Museum, ticket-holders to the showing of Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the IMAX on September 30th were able to do just that. Nearly every Edible Cinema showing sells out at lightning speed, making passes much like golden tickets themselves. It’s easy to see why, given that the experience is akin to entering Wonka’s factory itself — stepping into a world of pure imagination.
The idea is simple. Use taste, texture and smell to enhance the power of film and intensify the cinematic experience. The execution is equally as simple. Viewers are given a tray of numbered boxes plus a menu card indicating the ‘signal’ for each box. For example, ‘enjoy,’ the word used by Mr Wonka to unleash his child guests on his edible room of wonders, is also the trigger word for a box containing edible grass, gooey marshmallow and rock-shaped candies, all of which match the visuals perfectly.
The food part is where it does get complex. The equivalent of five canapés, three mini-cocktails and a welcome drink, each morsel manages to bring to life the flavours on screen. In this case, flavours dreamed up by Roald Dahl to delight children (and more than a few adults) — flavours wonderful in their impossibility: fantastical, amazing, fictional chocolates and sweets. Open the numbered tubs, however, and you’ll find yourself chewing on Violet Beauregard’s three-course dinner gum, sampling Augustus Gloop-flavoured chocolate and sipping on vibrant ‘green caterpillar’ goo. With each menu, Edible Cinema manages to put together intricate blends of flavours to complement the film.
From the weird (roast beef-flavoured gum and chocolate-covered cured ham) to the wonderful (spiced chocolate truffle and marzipan ‘teeth’), the flavour journey covers everything — thankfully with a heavier emphasis on the latter. In the beginning, the audience experiences Prince Pondicherry and his melting chocolate palace with spiced truffle dripping in chocolate sauce and Mr Bucket’s sad ejection from the toothpaste factory with gin-laced edible toothpaste. They journey through the factory’s smells and tastes before ending with Veruca Salt’s nutty end — viewed while drinking a gorgeous concoction of Jägermeister, gin, amontillado sherry and hazelnut syrup — and Willy Wonka’s reunion with his father, symbolised by literal sweet teeth.
Paired with the visuals, these pockets of flavour help to sear moments of the film into the mind and elevate them into multi-sensory memories. Augustus Gloop smearing his fingers into a marshmallow plant and stuffing handfuls of sugar grass into his mouth is entwined with those same sticky sweet tastes. Hugely creative, the idea is an experiment in the realms you can push cinema too and one that will enthrall foodies looking for something new. While Mr Wonka’s flavour journey may be over, you can still, luckily, take part in this experiment at their next screening. Keep an eye out for their next location and film, and make sure you book fast. Those golden tickets get snapped up quick.
By Emma Cooke
Emma is a journalist with an obsession for all things culture-related. She is online editor of blow LTD, a Buzzfeed contributor, and fashion features editor of Parisian magazine, L’Insolent. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.