Chocolate Frogs and Every-Flavour Beans...

“There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable. Creamy chunks of nougat, shimmering pink squares of coconut ice, fat, honey coloured toffee; hundred of different kinds of chocolate in neat rows; there was a large barrel of every flavour beans and another of Fizzing Whizzbees” (PA 147).

The food found in the world of Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling is as fantastical as the world itself. It is unlimited and excessive, grand and decadent. The protagonist of the novels, Harry Potter, begins as a skinny under-nourished young boy, but this changes as he is introduced to the magic world. From then on, he has access to any and all variety of foods whenever he wants them, as in this world no one does without. This is a radical change from life at the Dursleys, where he would be deprived food as a form of punishment.

Particularly in the earlier novels of the series, food plays an important role in forming the atmosphere of a setting. The food of Hogwarts, the home of the three main characters, offers the most wholesome food, shown by the first feast they all attend. Filling the table are plates filled with “roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, chips, yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup” (PS 92). The seemingly endless list of food exemplifies the colossal amount of food and consumption that occurs in the series. Sweet food is of particular importance in the series when considering it formed the basis of the friendship between Harry and Ron. Hogwarts is not the only location in which food is found. Travelling to the castle on the Hogwarts express, Harry discovers that sweet foods are accessible everywhere in this world. The trolley offers “Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, Droobles Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, liquorice wands and a number of strange things Harry had never seen in his life. Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of everything” (PS 76). Sweet foods are an access point to his new life, and a way to get an education in things he does not yet understand. 

The Hogwarts express is not the only location in which the characters have access to sweet foods. In fact, there is almost always somewhere in every location in which to find all different kinds of treats. In Hogsmede there is the famous Honeydukes sweet shop, and in Diagon Alley there is Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, from which Harry was given “free sundaes every half hour” (PA 42) in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Once again, sweet foods are apparently limitless and incredibly easy to access.

Food in the Harry Potter series is reflective of the fantasy elements of the world created. Food is easy to access and comes in limitless supply, and yet no character seems to suffer ill effects. Child readers not only aspire to achieve the magic of this world, but wish to have the ability to eat what they like and as much of it as they like. There is no mention of ill health or obesity in the novels, and indeed no concern of it either. Particularly for Harry, eating the foods exclusive to the magic world shows an ability to belong to it and enjoy it. It is not a sign of exclusivity or elitism, and does not work to alienate 'muggle' readers, but creates a world for these readers to aspire to.

Works Cited
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 2001. Print
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. London: Bloomsbury, 1999. Print.

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Sweet_Tooth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sweet_Tooth said...

How I was that child! It is intersting that eating sweet food without any undesirable effects is an aspiration for young children, differing dramatically to the use of food in Elizabeth Beeton's text, which enforces aspirations of status and financial wealth. However, although you mention it is not elitism (which overall I agree with), it just occurred to me that Harry was able to afford all of it whereas Ron Weasley could not. Through the visit to Gringotts it is established that Harry has been left a large sum of money and it is emphasised throughout the series that the Weasley family are not well off. So, I am not sure what the message is myself. What I am sure of is that Harry Potter is partly responsible for my three tooth fillings, because afterall I am a muggle.

Holly Parsons said...

"It is not a sign of exclusivity or elitism, and does not work to alienate 'muggle' readers, but creates a world for these readers to aspire to."

I really like this point, especially when it comes to the sweets that are available in Harry Potter. As a child I really liked that Every Flavour Beans were something that I, as a muggle, could sort-of experience in the form of Jelly Belly Beans. (Although I'm glad they didn't have snot flavoured ones in the packets!)

Nina Kallevik Thommesen said...

I guess this is a bit of an obvious point, but it seems to me that J.K Rowling has managed to construct a world that was pulled out of every girl\woman's fantasy. The idea of being able to eat all the chocolate you crave without putting on any weight seems like heaven to me. However, the abundance of food could also be a way of recreating the carefree atmosphere of childhood; as happy children we did eat whatever we could stick our teeth into without thinking twice.

Manvir Bahia said...

Every time I think of Harry Potter it reminds me of that trolley where we are introduced to the chocolate frogs! Who would think of that? Apart from a young child who wants to eat a frog, as disgusting as that sounds I am sure some children do. It is strange when very young children see everything as food, every insect, piece of dirt and so on. J. K. Rowling allows the reader to go back to their innocent childhood as she creates horrendous animals into sweet treats. Well, I would not mind trying a chocolate frog, just to feel like a young child again!

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