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The Next Generation of Pancake Art Uses Facial Recognition Software

A Bristol-based design firm has devised a 3-D printer that places a photorealistic image of your face on a pancake. Time to drown your edible, Chuck Close-like selfie in syrup and butter.
Image via Flickr user Caterina Guidoni

This article originally appeared on Munchies.

In case this is your glance at the internet today, everyone is in the gleeful, carby throes of Pancake Day (not to be confused with the unrelated, America-centric National Pancake Day, which is one of those mysteriously self-materializing food holidays that makes you momentarily crave a dish that you usually ignore. Can’t wait for Pecan Day on March 25th!).


No, no. Pancake Day—celebrated primarily in the UK, Ireland, Canada, and Australia—has a legit backstory. Also known as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day is the day before Ash Wednesday—which, should you be religiously observant in a Christian sense, is the first day of Lent.

Actually, Pancake Day was originally a pagan celebration of the changing of seasons, a sort of recognition of the maddening battle this time of year between blistering cold and stirrings of spring. Pancakes—in their roundness and warmth—symbolized the sun.

Whether you’re a Pagan gargoyle or a cheery Lent-observer, today is a time for pancakes. Eating pancakes, tossing pancakes, burning pancakes into rock-hard char on your favorite pan: the whole nine yards. But if you ascribe to neither Christian Lent observance nor sun-worship, you can now spend this day expressing your devotion to … yourself, by placing a portrait of your own face, in all of its sordid detail, on a pancake.

It seems that 3-D printing has now sprung up in the realm of breakfast foods, and with a charmingly narcissistic twist. A Bristol-based design firm called Kinneir Dufort has come up with a fancy machine that uses facial recognition technology to print your likeness on the syrup-ready surface.

The system utilizes both the high-tech and the low-tech to mirror your visage, combining complex face-recognition and tracking software with the well-established practice of layering strokes of pancake batter onto a hot plate to result in color gradation caused by the varied cooking times of different parts. The timing must be swift and accurate; the batter, just the right consistency. All in all, the machine is like the Chuck Close of pancakes.


The result: an eerily accurate, Dorian Gray-like portrait that you can choose to either admire or slather with butter and masticate into sweet, bready pulp. And all in less than five minutes.

Impressive? Sure. Somewhat disconcerting? Perhaps. But everyone loves a good selfie.

In the words of Design Week’s Angus Montgomery, “For several years now, designers and developers have been searching for an everyday practical application for 3D printing. Well everyone can stop now, because we’ve found the task this technology was created for.”

The layered-batter method of creating pancake art, however, is nothing new. The ever-resourceful “Internet World” figured out a while ago that you can brand all kinds of stuff into your pancakes with a little patience and practice. There is pancake art of ice cream cones and skulls and Kanye West and Walking Dead characters.

So is all of that fancy-schmancy digital camera equipment and image-processing software really necessary to essentially replicate, in slightly more professional form, something that creative-type housewives are already gaily perfecting?

Probably not. But it makes for a cooler Instagram post when your personal pancake gets your hair just right.


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