There are so many different ways that video game characters can be turned into food, but designer cakes are the most ubiquitous. As these clever Nintendo-themed bento boxes show, cakes are far from the only suitable medium for turning food into art.
Bento is a thousand-year-old Japanese custom that consists simply of preparing food that fits neatly into a lunchbox. Of course, it has now evolved to the point where bento makers are elaborately styling food in artistic ways, but its main purpose remains the same: to provide an attractive, healthy, and portable meal. These Nintendo-themed lunches both adhere to the “attractive, healthy, and portable” rules, and they show how similar concepts can be executed in very different ways.
The first bento box is by a Flicker user named Wingedegg, and it features a Super Mario theme. Mario himself is not present in the piece, but there are plenty of characters and items following the motif. First, there are baby tomato Piranha Plants on vertical rows of pipe-like celery and cucumber. The theme continues with coins made of carrots and a “question mark” block of cheese.
In the bottom half of the box, there are invincibility star rice balls and Koopa shells made of Babybel halves. The designer even used a mushroom tin as a soy sauce container! Overall, this bento is an ideal design – though the visuals are simple, they’re still visually appealing. And since there are no complex cuttings involved, it’s easy for others to imitate the design.
The second bento box boasts a Super Smash Bros. theme and definitely comes with a do-not-try-this-at-home warning. Kirby, Yoshi, and Pikachu are all made of potato salad balls wrapped with various ingredients – ham, lettuce, and omelette, depending on the character – and decorated with an assortment of cutouts made of seaweed, fish cake, carrots, and red peppers.
Meatballs, lettuce and broccoli form the platforms that the characters stand on, and edible invincibility stars litter the battleground. To top it all off, there is a minuscule seaweed Mr. Game and Watch, cut with x-acto knife precision. This bento looks incredibly complicated, yet its creator, Annathered, attests that it’s not difficult to make on your own – she even provides instructions for making Yoshi.
Though the Smash Bros. bento is more sophisticated in design than the Super Mario one, I’m willing to bet that it’s less nutritious and possibly even less tasty! The first one contains a healthy balance of rice, cheese, and fresh vegetables, while the second largely consists of rice, meat, and potato salad, with raw vegetables using sparsely. And yes, the second looks more like a work of art rather than food arranged in an appealing way, but since when is fine art appetizing?
If you’ve already drooled over the gorgeous Super Mario Galaxy cake and the Super Mario wedding cake but despaired of ever having the skills to make anything remotely as intricate, perhaps you should try your hand at bento instead.