This series explores the world of 3D printing through the most navel-gazing image possible: the selfie.
I thought it was going to be three-dimensional. I guess technically the gummy candy squirting out of the printer at Dylan’s Candy Bar on the Upper East Side was raised, but I’d imagined a Haribo-like gummy version of my face (like those gummy bears or frogs, or even Coke bottles), with a raised bump for a nose and lots of texture to stand in for my curly hair. This was more like lots of random squiggles painted on a flat card, with lots of white space in between.
Of course, the Beyoncé print was pretty awesome, squiggles and white lines be damned.
After all, it’s made of candy, and everyone loves candy! Think somewhere between fruit leather and a fruit rollup, all vegan, all-natural, gluten-free, and gelatin-free, of course.
Called the Magic Candy Factory, the machine, which is made by Katje’s and looks like a MakerBot FDM/FFF printer, is pretty easy to use and pretty cool to watch.
After you pick your design from a tablet (either a shape already in the system or a photo that you upload), a trained Dylan’s employee does some sort of magic on the tablet (thickening lines on the image, adjusting contrast), inserts a syringe of warmed gummy candy (your choice of flavor!) into the printer, and lets it get to work. The employee decides how many layers the image needs: My elephant needed many, but my selfie only needed one. Then they manually clean up the lines with a long toothpick-looking thing and spray magic glitter, sour dust, or fuzzy dust on top. (Carlos, the Dylan’s Candy Bar staffer helping me, aka the best person ever, said he likes to wear the glitter in his hair and go for a run because it makes him feel like a unicorn.)
Each print costs $15, which might seem steep until you consider that Carlos (or another employee) spends about 30 minutes with each person, walking them through the process, taste-testing magnificent mango versus elegant elderberry, and generally explaining how the machine works. Rendering for a new print takes about 15 minutes but only 3 to 5 minutes to actually print.
So what’s the most popular shape? Carlos likes the elephant, and he says that most kids choose animals or other 3D shapes. The adults, though? Selfies, all the way. Damn. I guess I really am an adult.