“Potter” Foods: Expectations vs. Reality
Welcome to Part Deux of our food series. Last time, we ranked food on a scale of 1 to 5 Ron emojis. This time, we’re discussing what we expected the food in the Potter universe to look like versus what the foods actually look like per the film directors.
Chocolate Frogs/Peppermint Toads
Both the film’s decision to animate Harry’s first Chocolate Frog in SS and PoA’s description of Ron massaging his stomach after eating a Peppermint Toad (197, 213) had put me off from wanting to taste one. My opinion quickly changed, however, upon the first bite of Caitlyn’s.
Flaming Christmas Pudding
Best discovery ever: TechInsider describes traditional English Christmas pudding as “aged up to a year before serving, giving it a high alcohol content as the fruits ferment.” Now, because JKR described them as “flaming,” I wonder if the pudding slices were doused with Bacardi 151 and then dramatically lit up. I’d assumed the glinting of the Sickle gave the dessert its name (SS 203). I like the idea of boozy fruitcake much better.
Apparently, peppermint humbugs are just fat, hard, peppermint-flavored candies. I’d imagined a meringue that looked like a ladybug. (Remember the slippery, teeth-wielding Licorice Snaps from GoF? That was my initial thought.) False. They’re the English equivalent of Brach’s Star Brites.
JKR describes Polyjuice Potion as being “bubbling, glutinous,” like “thick, dark mud” (SS 216). The films accurately capture just how gross that would look. What the films don’t show, however, is the potion changing color and texture depending on whose hair’s dropped in. For example, Millicent’s cat hair turns Hermione’s share into a “sick sort of yellow” liquid, Goyle’s hair turns Ron’s into a hissing, khaki color, and Crabbe’s hair curdles Harry’s into an even murkier-looking brown (SS 216). In DH – Part 1, everyone in the Order complains that Harry’s Polyjuice Potion looks and tastes like goblin’s piss. This is a clear departure from JKR explicit description: “The moment [Harry’s hair] made contact with its surface, the potion began to froth and smoke, then, all at once, it turned a clear, bright gold” (DH 50).
This is totally the American in me (Jasmine), but I assumed Pumpkin Pasties were pumpkin-flavored Pop-Tarts. The Internet reveals a whole trove of recreations, which range from pocket pies to jam-tart-adjacent. None look like Pop-Tarts, because pasties are a completely different animal.
In the book, JKR merely describes Petunia’s fancy dessert as “a huge mound of whipped cream and sugared violets” (CoS 10). I’d imagined a giant meringue, liberally coated in whipped cream, dotted with sugared violets. In the film, however, Petunia’s impressive pudding is an over-the-top trifle, overloaded with pastel frosting. It merely existed for the gag of dropping onto Mrs. Mason’s head.
I thought sugar quills looked exactly like normal quills. In PoA, Ron excitedly describes ones “you can suck in class and just look like you’re thinking what to write next” (77). Then I saw these really nice golden-spun ones. I thought they were spelled to look the same as a normal quill, but the ones I saw were clearly treats that could never pass as regular writing utensils.
The two of us had conflicting initial expectations of Cockroach Clusters. One of us thought they would look like piles of dung. The other thought they looked like actual cockroaches, its outsides covered with a thin layer of chocolate. Off-putting but not as bad as the real thing: They’re made up of cockroaches, just fashioned to look like peanuts. No wonder Ron wondered aloud if he could fool Fred into eating some (PoA 200).
I immediately thought they were a cauldron-shaped, self-saucing cake. (Like a molten chocolate lava cake.) However, nearly every interpretation of Cauldron Cakes on the Internet either imagines them as chocolate molds with tiny handles, or a hollowed-out cake, filled with cream and sprinkles, mimicking the look of a frothing cauldron.
Readers, what about you? Sorcerer’s Stone was published in 1997. The movie premiered in 2001. We had five glorious years, unhindered by filmic influences, to imagine what these treats looked like. How did the film’s version stack up to your own?