Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

The Edible Population

It seems to be an old tradition in stories for children to have landscapes, items, and people made out of edible materials, especially candy and other sweet foods. The Oz books are no exception to this, although the idea actually appeared in some of Baum's other fantasies before making it to the Oz series itself. The Magical Monarch of Mo gives us the Maple Plains, Fruitcake Island, cows that give ice cream, a dragon with raspberry jelly instead of blood, and talking animal crackers that grow on trees. I think his first edible people, however, might well be the ones who appear in Dot and Tot of Merryland. The second valley of Merryland, known as the Valley of Bonbons, is inhabited by people with marshmallow flesh and stick candy bones, who coat themselves with powdered sugar to keep from sticking to things. They are also known to have some racist and cannibalistic tendencies, the former shown in the fact that chocolate people are a servant class, and the latter in that they'll eat any fellow candy people who end up broken into pieces. The candy man whom Dot and Tot encounter in the valley reappears in The Road to Oz, as a companion to Queen Dolly at Ozma's birthday party. Also attending this party is another edible personage, John Dough, a human-sized gingerbread man made by French immigrant baker Jules Grogrande in order to celebrate the Fourth of July, and inadvertently animated with the Elixir of Life. After running from people who want to eat him, John has a series of adventures on some Nonestic islands with a gender-ambiguous child called Chick the Cherub (hence the title John Dough and the Cherub for his book), eventually culminating in his becoming king of the unfriendly but united nations of Hiland and Loland.


The first occasion of edible people within Oz itself occurs in Emerald City, with its village of Bunbury (quite possibly named after the imaginary relative from The Importance of Being Earnest, but I don't believe there's ever been actual confirmation on this), home to a large number of rather aristocratic baked goods. Dorothy pays a visit there that starts out friendly, but goes sour when Toto, on a dare, eats a few of the citizens (and given what we learn about Toto in Tik-Tok, he really should have known better). There's no indication as to how the people of Bunbury came into existence, but since the neighboring town of Bunnybury was established by Glinda, and the book also credits her with setting up the Cuttenclips' village, I don't think it's too far-fetched to say that Glinda granted some life-giving ovens and a plot of land in her Quadling Country to an eccentric baker. Incidentally, one of the advertising pamphlets that Ruth Plumly Thompson wrote for the Royal Baking Powder Company was called "Billy in Bunbury," but since I haven't read it, I couldn't tell you whether it's about the same Bunbury. Her other advertisements for the company did feature live food people, including the Jinn of the Gelatin Isles. I'm not sure how many baking products Royal makes today, but I know their gelatin is still available as a cheaper alternative to Jell-O.



Speaking of Thompson, she brought in a candy giant named Bangladore as a minor character in her first Oz book, Royal Book. He's made out of taffy, with sour ball eyes and a chocolate coat. Her second book, Kabumpo, introduces another bit part, the King of the Soup Sea, who is made out of soup bones with a cabbage for a head and a soup bowl for a crown. He is a quite friendly ruler, whose job is to keep his sea of soup stirred and seasoned, and to present rolls to visitors.



In John R. Neill's Wonder City, there's an army of giant chocolate soldiers living on a chocolate star in the sky above Oz. The soldiers are made out of the chocolate of the star itself, and they typically act in unison, all except for their general. The soldiers set out for the Emerald City on a silver cloud with a dark lining in order to conquer the capital of Oz, but Jenny Jump saves the city by setting up her Turn-Style in the city gate, which turns them all into toy tin soldiers. His next book, Scalawagons, shows the Lolly-Pop Village, located at the foot of Carrot Mountain in the Quadling Country, alongside the Singing Brook inhabited by water fairies and kelpies. The village itself is inhabited by the six industrious Lollies, each of whom is a different flavor (the text mentions Minty, Scotchy, Choco, and an unnamed lemon-flavored girl), and their lazy Pops. The Pops are actually now somewhat more active, since Tik-Tok knocked some sense into them with a mallet.

In Dorothy, Roger Baum brings in his own edible Candy Country, ruled by the Giant Royal Marshmallow. The cannibalistic tendencies of the candy people of Merryland seem to come into play again here, with Dorothy discovering that all foods EXCEPT marshmallow make the monarch sick. Incidentally, a letter from L. Frank Baum mentions that he was originally thinking of replacing the Garden of Meats chapter from Patchwork Girl with an encounter with the Marshmallow Twins, but he was presumably convinced by the publisher that the book was long enough without it. I wonder if these twins are related to the Giant Royal Marshmallow.
Tags: books, characters, food, oz
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