Food physics

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Background from left, Kayla Walpole, Amari Esro and Marcus Martinez from the Fine Arts Academy in White Settlement explain the design of their edible car to the judges Friday at Hubbard Hall during the Edible Car Contest.
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Area students race edible cars at TWU

A dried sausage, partially hollowed out to fit tiny doll passengers, is attached to four small Baby Bell cheeses to make a car.

Another car uses a zucchini for the body and four rice cakes for wheels. One uses Rice Krispies coated in melted Starburst candies on wheels made of Lifesavers.

Thirty of these edible vehicles raced in the 16th annual Edible Car Contest on Friday at Texas Woman’s University, where teams of four from area middle schools, high schools and TWU competed for the top spot.

The teams walk up to a long, red wooden ramp at the front of a large ballroom on campus, where Mark Hamner, assistant provost for institutional research and data management, greets the students.

There, students place the car at the top on a metal ledge that is moved with a lever by Hamner when the judges are ready.

“What’s interesting is just how seriously they take it; they’re excited and nervous at the same time,” Hamner said. “Their enthusiasm is really what I enjoy because they take so much pride in their creation that they’re nervous about it functioning.”

For one group from Argyle, it was trial and error as they tried to decide on a theme — one aspect they are judged on in the competition — and on what they would use for the body of the car. In the guidelines, absolutely everything must be an edible item to qualify for the competition.

“It was a little bit difficult at first, but then it got easier as we went along,” said one team member, Sofia Uceda.

“We tried a potato at first, but it kind of got soggy and backfired,” said Emily Given, another team member.

They eventually settled on a body made of sausage with cheese wheels, mirroring their theme of Coca-Cola.

This learning process is part of what makes the edible car contest so valuable, Hamner said.

“It’s just like anything else, you learn from your failures and you improve, so it’s one of those things I’ve really enjoyed,” he said.

Others are more familiar with the process, like returning champions Melissa Willis and Abby Mann, also in the eighth grade in Argyle. This year, they tried a similar design to last year since it was so successful. Melted orange Starbust candies surrounded rice cereal treats to make it look like carrots, with small, white Lifesaver wheels, held together with melted gummies and attached to the body with dried pasta.

“Since it was really heavy, it went down really well, so we based our car this year off the one from last year,” Willis said.

The inspiration this year was the logo for the contest, an homage to outgoing TWU Chancellor and President Ann Stuart. They also looked the part, sporting white button-down shirts and dress ties to look like professors, they said.

The original ideas, and the students who dress up for the race, continue to surprise Don Edwards, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences who helps coordinate the event.

“I think what surprises me is how creative they are, and every year I’ll see something that I’ve never seen before,” he said. “They all have such a good time, and winning or losing doesn’t seem all that important to them.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.

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