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When Used Books Attack: Operation Banana Candle

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

It’s been a year since I wrote about the stupefyingly awful 1970s cookbook Be Bold with Bananas and the banana candle. And the internet responded like this. Since then, the banana candle has taken on a life of its own. (I feel like I should start singing “Now this is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down…”) People still remark on the banana candle on a weekly basis. Because it’s scary. WARNING: Viewing this image may break your brain. Ready? Here it comes.

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Tapdancing trilobites! I warned you. It’s so disturbing. The banana candle doesn’t seem like it should exist. It’s like something Balki Bartokomous would present as a national food of Mypos. (I just spelled Balki Bartokomous correctly without looking it up – that itself is scary.) When I die, I imagine people will sing “Banana Candle in the Wind” at my funeral, and there will be an eternal banana candle flame on my headstone.

Recently, Colin Dickey came to Portsmouth to give a reading at RiverRun Bookstore, where I work. He is one of my favorite people. He and I have been talking on the internet for years, but this was the first time we’d met in person. It was so exciting! And he brought me a gift bag…filled with the fixings for a banana candle. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

I don’t know why I’ve never attempted to make a banana candle, considering all the attention it got. Maybe I haven’t been ready to face such abject horror. *wrings hands and cries ‘Think of the children!‘*. But now, with all the ingredients right at my fingertips, there was no reason not to put the ‘fruit’ in ‘fruition.’ So I took my magic submarine to the bottom of the ocean, slew the sea dragon that guarded the Cave of Evil, and retrieved the Be Bold with Bananas cookbook from its dark depths. Or I got it off the shelf of one of my bookcases. One of these things is true.

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First, I set up all the ingredients in my office, so that if I started making a banana candle and accidentally summoned Satan instead, my coworkers could call for help.

The bananas that Colin brought were all too big to fit in the hole in the pineapple slice – paging Dr. Freud – so I had to run to the store and get a smaller one. To begin, the recipe tells you to halve the banana and soak it in lemon juice. I didn’t have any lemon juice on hand, but I did anoint it with my tears of horror, so there’s that. I also didn’t have any lettuce greens to put under the candle, like they show in the cookbook, so I used a green plate instead. I’ve got mad improvisational skills, yo.

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Next, you’re supposed to drip mayonnaise down the sides to represent melted wax. Um, wait – drip? I held a spoonful of mayonnaise over the banana, and it clung to the spoon like a baby howler monkey to its mama.

“Maybe mayonnaise was made of different stuff back in the 70s,” suggested my coworker.

Maybe. It was probably made with eggs and cocaine cut with baby powder. The stuff I was trying to use was the offspring of petroleum jelly and molasses. I’m pretty sure Brangelina’s kids would all graduate from college before this mayonnaise dripped. So I tried microwaving it for ten seconds to soften it up.

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THAT’S another image I didn’t need in my head.

In the end, I just smeared the mayonnaise around. Then, following the instructions, I cut a maraschino cherry in half and stuck it on the top to represent the flame. It looked like a Lee Press-On Nail. But, voila – a banana candle!

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Okay, so it’s the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of banana candles, but still. I made one! (Wow, TWO Fresh Prince references in one post. I need mental help.)

I think it looks like Lady Gaga dressed as Hello Kitty:


And the mayonnaise kinda looks like Donald Trump on a breezy day:


Also, I learned you should only view it from head-on. Otherwise, it looks like I ripped the thumb off a female Yeti.

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So, when I was finished, did I eat the banana candle? HELLS NO. Gross. I will only suffer so much for my art, people.

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Maybe for my next banana craft, I’ll make a banana Xenomorph. And while searching for that image, I found the perfect sculpture for atop my headstone.