John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The U.K.'s first "lickable lift" raises horrific questions about what kind of flavors will be gracing the walls.
A British dessert manufacturer has created a cake-flavored elevator because, really, there's no shame at all for a grown man to get on his knees and lick a public wall.
But we should all shiver in horror that this advertising breakthrough has occurred in England, land of eldritch flavors.
Today's "lickable lift" presents a palatable enough course ("palatable" if you don't mind tonguing walls). More than 1,300 Jaffa Cakes plaster the walls of this elevator, located inside a London-based communications company. The edible decor is a stunt by Mischief PR, which was hired by McVitie's International to bring awareness to its pucks of sponge cake, chocolate, and orange jam. Despite cranking out an astounding 3 million Jaffa Cakes a day, McVitie's believes its product is underrepresented in the collective consciousness of the U.K.
The 16-story elevator is swarmed with three kinds of circles representing the individual layers of the snack. The idea is not new, having come from Willy Wonka's lickable snozberry wallpaper; chefs have played with wallpaper tastings before and one Brooklyn company even makes a scratch-and-sniff version that smells like fruit cocktail.
Germaphobes will be happy to know that once a passenger does lick a wall-cake, a bellhop removes it from circulation – if his attention isn't distracted at that particular moment, of course.
But now that this idea is out of the box, what's to stop the English from rolling out infrastructure embedded with molecules of the country's other beloved-but-inscrutable foods? Imagine billboards that taste like Spotted Dick or Tube benches that emit flavor clouds of Bubble and Squeak.
In a London designed by flavor-mad marketing firms, the light poles would shimmer with the essence of jellied eels. The sides of buses would deliver mouthfuls of Eton Mess and water fountains might spurt jets of flummery, huffkins and priddy oggies. A bizarre foodstuff would be ready to leap into your gullet everywhere you turned. So please, let us keep this idea confined to elevators:
All images courtesy of McVitie's International.