Brand Activations 101: Edible Serviceware


Edible serviceware isn't a new idea, but it's had a bit of a resurgence lately with some playful Brand Activation-led solutions using both new and old fashioned materials and techniques.  Drinking vessels have been particularly popular, probably because the fact they don't immediately dissolve seems more exciting than edible cutlery, which mostly needs to not snap. Biscuit had a bit of a moment, first with Cronut creator Dominique Ansel's Cookie Cup - a choc chip cookie cup lined with chocolate, designed for drinking cold milk:


Followed by the Robin Collective's similarly biscuit based, chocolate lined Scoffee Cup, for KFC, designed for the consumption of espresso. RC's more polished version featured a printed, branded rice paper wrapper, scented with a choice of aromas designed to enhance the drinking experience. That nice detail seemed to get lost in the press coverage, which was followed by some online finger pointing re: the similarity of the concepts. But to be fair to RC, it seems improbable that Mr Ansel is the first person ever to seal a biscuit layer with chocolate to stop it getting soggy, which is the basic premise of the thing. Not the best timing ever (or perhaps great timing from KFC's perspective, since a bit of controversy only leads to more coverage). But not exactly an idea swipe either, though for elegance of concept cookie + milk trumps biscuit + coffee any day. Maybe if they'd been made out of digestive...


Plus of course no-one has mentioned Enrique Luis Sardi's biscuit espresso cups - Crunchy Cup - an edition of which was made for Lavazza in 2012. Definitely the cutest of the bunch, his version had an adorable little handle and less clunky branding. But Lavazza's marketing is both consistently ahead of the crowd and beautifully finished, so no surprise there (call us!).  



Also unmentioned: Big Shott's range of chocolate lined wafer shot cups. Probably because they've been around since 2002. 


Honourable final mention to the 'Alfred Cone' from Sept 2015, which manages to roll all of the above into one. There really are no new things.



Of course biscuit isn't the only edible material that can hold a fluid... Loliware's Leigh Ann Tucker and Chelsea Briganti have created a very nicely done range of edible gel cups which are completely edible, vegan and come in a variety of delicious flavours. 



And of course we shouldn't forget Fernando Laposse, a creative bod (and fellow Experimental Food Society member) who applies craft techniques to food, with fascinating results. His - successful - attempts to use glassblowing techniques with sugar have resulted in a range of beautiful marbled sugar cups. These can be flavoured so that they gradually sweeten and infuse the drink they hold.





Sugary shot glasses aren't limited to the artisans, though - you can buy something that looks like a stick of rock re-formed into a shot glass on Amazon... mmm. sticky.



Getting into the realms of the silly, Amazon also offers chocolate 'toasting cups' which are quite patently the ones usually sold for petit fours, with a different label slapped on. Which is why there are reviews complaining that they're about an inch high. We love the idea of people trying to 'celebrate in style' with these, let's hope the toast is a short one or you'll end up with a chocolate and liqueur coated hand.



Before we move on to non-drinking options, we need to give an honourable mention to Benny's Straws - a meat straw created for use in Bloody Marys. An actual product you can actually buy, these are a great weapon in the never ending Bloody Mary garnish one upmanship contest. Also hilarious.



Which leads us to the Starbucks cookie straw which debuted in 2016. Aka a hollow wafer straw, another patisserie staple. We actually like this kind of lateral thinking, it's got a fancy name: exaptation. It's when you take technology made for one thing and use it for something else. The usual example is Gutenberg using wine presses to develop printing presses, but taking a patisserie product and using it as a cute edible straw works for us too (with the caveat that, unlike the chocolate toasting cups, the result is fit for purpose).



Moving on to cutlery, Poilane has had a range of edible spoons and forks since about 2011. These are more delicious novelty breadsticks than useful items, due to being thick, flat and incapable of forking or spooning anything that isn't hummus. They also have cookie spoons 'cos everyone loves faffin' with biscuits.



More functional but less delicious: Nobuniko Arika and Koratt bakery's set of edible bowl, plate and chopsticks made from hardtack a.k.a. the stuff they use for emergency rations at sea a.k.a. the stuff you made Xmas decorations from as a kid. Only for the desperately hungry or the deeply eco-aware.



Diane Bisson and Vito Gionatan Lassandro collaborated on a project called 'Food Nests', an exploration of container forms that use tomato as a base material, with rather beautiful results.



Diane also made a successful foray into gel containers a few years ago.



There are also a plethora of edible canape spoons/chocolate spoons for ice cream and similar out there. But rather than geek ourselves to sleep we'll round off with a nod to the original edible serviceware: bread and pastry. Pastry as a way of carrying around food to eat later (most notably the Cornish Pasty, with its thick plaited edge for a good grip) and bread as the original plate or 'trencher' which would be given to the poor after a meal. As noted above, there really are no new ideas...


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