Cake is delicious and comics are awesome: this exciting non-fiction graphic novel for kids combines both! Explore the history of desserts through a fun adventure with facts, legends, and recipes for readers to try at home in Yummy: A History of Desserts.
Writer and artist Victoria Grace Elliott gives us the (ice cream) scoop on creating such a sweet treat of a graphic novel! Plus, check out an exclusive sneak peek, complete with a recipe for delicious snickerdoodles!
What inspired you to write this book and even more specifically why a graphic novel?
So, the original inspiration came from a conversation between my agent, Steven Salpeter, and Gina Gagliano…over what I believe was an ice cream meeting! Gina expressed an interest in a book about food history, and I totally ran with it, haha. I’ve toyed with research-based comics back when I was in college, and there’s so many great comics and tv shows that feature food and their stories and how they’re made–stuff like Wakakozake, Midnight Diner or any Anthony Bourdain show you can think of. I’d already been doing some food history research, too, for my webcomic–that’s how I learned about the Macaron Sisters! When considering how to format it as a comic, I thought it’d be fun to have little sprites the size of the food lead you through the history. And all these elements came together to form Yummy!
We learn what Peri, Fee, and Fada’s fave Ice cream is, what their fave cake is, what their fave pie is, and what their fave cookie is. What are all of your faves?
THIS QUESTION IS SO HARD…Okay. My favorite ice cream is definitely chocolate chip cookie dough. Favorite cake would be whipped cream cake with fresh fruit–I like cake light and fluffy! Favorite pie would be the egg tart. And for cookies, I really love a homemade chocolate drop cookie with white and dark chocolate chips or iced shortbread cookies!
What was the most interesting dessert or technique to research?
I think the ice cream chapter was the most engaging to research. After all, there’s so many factors that went into making cold desserts before electricity! But I also loved researching donuts, mostly because fried dough is such an easy treat to make, almost everyone has their own version. That chapter felt like a joyride to research and write because it’s such a celebration of fried sweets!
Some of my favorite tidbits were the Legend of the Waffle Cone and the Legend of the Mooncake, what were some of your favorites?
Ohhh, this is also a hard one. One of my favorites was learning about the Islamic Golden Age and Ibn Sina and the origins of sharbat. Its influence went so far, from ice cream to cold syrup! I also really loved featuring people like Frances Hashimoto, Ruth Graves Wakefield, and Capt. Hanson “Donut Hole Captain” Gregory. Their stories characterize them all as ambitious and a bit cheeky, and I am a sucker for characters like that.
The book is a mix of history, legend, and even science—which was your favorite aspect to learn about?
The science was particularly challenging but very fascinating for me–I really had to try and wrap my head around stuff like the salted ice technique! But I definitely love the legends and interviews that feature a human element, however exaggerated they might be. I think they add a charm and personality to the foods and their histories.
When I have made homemade ice cream I always used a mason jar to shake the ingredients and then freeze. Your recipe calls for two zip lock bags and no freezing (just using the ice). Have you ever made homemade ice cream using the mason jar? If yes, why do you like the zip lock bag way more?
I’ve actually never used the mason jar technique! I went with shaking because–supposedly–the churning/shaking helps the cream freeze evenly?? When I was in high school, I made it that way for a chemistry class and royally messed it up. The ice cream was sooooo salty and gross! Maybe making the bagged ice version right was me regaining my lost honor, hahahaha. It’s just fun and interactive! But wow, your arms hurt afterward. I’d love to try out the mason jar technique, especially if it’s a bit easier on the arms!
Will we be hearing more from Peri and the gang and their love of food in the future?
Yes, we will! Peri and the gang will be back with a new sprite in the follow-up book, Yummy: A History of Tasty Experiments! In that one, they’ll explore foods with more inscrutable origins, like pickles, cheese, soda, and packaged foods! The kinds of food that make you wonder “who thought of this…?” I’m working on that one now and having so much fun!