Students stood in the sizzling sun searching their phones for photos as they waited in line. Two artists hunkered over griddles with pointy-tipped condiment bottles spread from one end of their table to the next. A viral art sensation was on campus in the form of pancakes.
Dancakes, an internationally known pancake art performance company named after founder Daniel Drake, visited the UCA campus from 12-3 p.m. Aug. 29 outside the Student Center. The small company consists of only six people, five of which are artists who travel across the globe bringing pancake art to the people and garnering millions of views on social media.
UCA’s Student Activities Board members learned about Dancakes at the National Association of Campus Activities conference last year and immediately decided they wanted to bring the event to campus.
“We go to a conference every year and we saw them,” SAB graduate assistant Bertita Barrientos said. “As a group, we came together, and we were all fascinated with the idea.”
The SAB members had previously seen similar videos and images of pancake art on social media.
“But when you see it in person, it’s just more incredible,” Barrientos said.
Packed away in large plastic totes was everything needed for artists Jenny Harrison and Ben Daniel to make edible art creations. Daniel developed special bottles that are easier to squeeze and have heat-resistant nozzles.
They use food coloring to dye the batter into different colors. They’ve also considered flavoring the batters with different flavors, but decided against it since using multiple colors would mean using multiple flavors and the taste might not be very pleasing.
Referencing photos students pull up on their phones, the artists layer lines of colored pancake batter on the griddles. The artists build the features in reverse order, first drawing outlines and fine details, and then filling in the hair and skin colors last.
Once the shape of the image is filled in, the pancakes sit on the griddle long enough to cook the batter all the way through before the big flip reveals the artistic creations in their full glory.
Most students chose to have selfies transformed into pancakes. Others chose comic book and movie characters such as Iron Man from Marvel’s Avengers series or Kronk from “The Emperor’s New Groove.” One student said she wanted to have the artists make her dog, a Jack Russell terrier.
Many students walked around campus for the rest of the day carrying pancakes, deciding against eating them even though Dancakes provided syrup. Daniel said that they get that reaction often, so the artists started experimenting with ways to preserve their pancakes in resin. Their first attempts didn’t turn out so good. They learned quickly that they would need to freeze-dry the pancakes first.
“[Without freeze-drying], it will get moldy really quick,” Daniel said. “The first time we tried it, we had a Deadpool pancake that we made. We still have it, but we have it in resin pressed between plexiglass and it’s just saturated with green [mold].”
Attempts they have made since then have been successful. To view images and videos of their creations, learn more about the artists or book them for an event, check out dancakes.com.