Sudsy Bites


By Tanya Silverman

Caramel flan soap. Photo courtesy of Denise Mancusco.

“I’ve received photos from customers of soap with teeth marks and actual bites taken out of them,” Denise Mancuso admits of her handicraft. That’s because she crafts food soaps, with the intent of making them “as realistic as possible, right down to the scent.” The fact that others get hungry means that she does her job well.

Mancuso runs the Etsy account AJSweetSoap. Premiering with the S’More soap, her current inventory includes chicken nuggets, fortune cookies, morning oatmeal, deviled eggs, plus other sweet and savory selections. Her Swiss cheese earned the soap slot on Huffington Post’s “15 Ways Etsy Shares Your Love for Swiss Cheese”. That honorable cheese soap–and everything else–is vegan.

Bacon and egg breakfast soap set. Photo courtesy of Denise Mancuso.

“Many of my customers will order the bacon/eggs/turkey/buffalo wing soap to gift to their vegan friends and family,” explains Mancuso. Vegan recipients, she says, actually give “wonderful feedback” because they “appreciate the novelty of receiving non-vegan themed items” in a form that respects their lifestyle.

In Mancuso’s eyes, the food soap idea is successful because something about fake food just makes humans happy.

“No one can look at a cupcake and be depressed; a cupcake soap is even better,” she reasons, “it’s a guiltless indulgence with no calories.”

Another Etsy shop that sells soaps of the culinary sort is Aubrey Elizabeth Apothecary.

Cinnamon bun soap. Photo courtesy of Aubrey Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, who’s a dessert enthusiast, began with candy corn soap; on today’s menu are frosted donuts, cinnamon buns, sushi sets, and (vegan) bacon. Embracing the humorous but usable nature of the niche craft, she says her toast soap resembles the actual food the most, largely because it “smells exactly like freshly baked bread.”

And yes, her soaps do succeed in making people hungry. There was one instance that Elizabeth recalls at a holiday market where she was selling her cookie soaps and shoppers began asking to be pointed towards the nearest (edible) cookie vendor. She also heard of an incident where a man came back home from his jog, popped a couple colorful gummy bears in his mouth, but did not taste the expected sugary snack–just soap.

Chicken and waffle soap. Photo courtesy of Aubrey Elizabeth.

So, if you can’t eat them, get clean with them. Why settle for showering with a boring bar when you can lather up with a plate of chicken and waffles, or take a relaxing bath with a creamy cannoli?

“Some people are just foodies like me and think it’s hilarious to bring that love along with them to the shower,” Elizabeth says.