That Crazy "Instant Bread" in 'Star Wars' Is Real and Actually Edible
Thought it was CGI? So did everybody else. But nope—what you see is pretty much what you get. Here's how the special effects team did it.
Food in Star Wars has never been very appealing, usually portrayed as being a source of simple sustenance rather than flavor. There's the blue milk and gruel-type meal Luke eats with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, the fishstick-like food item that Yoda steals from Luke's ration kit on Dagobah, and the swamp stew Yoda cooks up later. Jabba the Hutt eats frogs.
To revisit the dark days of episodes one through three, we were introduced to Jawa Juice, a booze that straight-laced Obi Wan Kenobi doesn't touch. And, from a tale in the expanded Star Wars lore, we learn that the bartender at Mos Eisley Cantina ground up Greedo's body and infused it into a liqueur.
About a month after its release and nearly a billion dollars later in US tickets sales, The Force Awakens has been watched by countless fans. And unless you're writing an encyclopedia detailing the food in the Star Wars universe (that exists), this won't be a spoiler. In The Force Awakens, the film's heroine, Rey, spends her days scavenging junk that she trades in for rations. After one such day, she returns home and pours some green powdered substance into a small pan of water. Almost instantly, a loaf of bread rises from the goo.
Many viewers assumed that the scene was made using CGI, but, it turns out, that insta-leavening bread is a real thing. Real enough to eat.
"You wouldn't believe how long it took to actually perfect that one, that little tiny gag in the film," Star Wars special-effects supervisor Chris Corbould told MTV. "It started off with the mechanics of getting the bread to rise and the liquid to disappear, but then there was the ongoing problem of what color should the bread be? What consistency should it be? Should it have cracks in it? Should it not have cracks in it?"
In fact, it took the special effects team three months to make the insta-bread, known as polystarch, which appeared on screen for just a few seconds. People have been in awe of the insta-bread on Twitter, with some fans clamoring to try it, though Corbould suggests you might not want to—it tastes terrible and most likely has no nutritional value. Naturally, crazed fans want to eat it anyway.
"I'm gonna be famous for Star Wars for nothing else but this bread!" Corbould said.
It isn't quite a Fifth Element one-second meal, but it's pretty awesome to watch. Unfortunately for those who might want to get their hands on some of the mystical bread, the mechanics of the loaf might not be as exciting as one might initially think.
"We molded up an inflatable bread so that it was deflated underneath the liquid, and then we slowly inflated it and sucked out the liquid with vacuum pumps at the same time to produce this bread coming up and forming," Corbould said in a video interview.
"It's a terrible admission," said Neal Scanlan, who worked with Corbould, "but I thought it was CGI too!"
Thankfully, it wasn't—the overuse of CGI was considered one of the major flaws in the prequel films. Director JJ Abrams said he wanted to use practical effects in The Force Awakens and called on Corbould, an Oscar-winning special effects expert who has worked on the latest Batman trilogy, Inception, James Bond movies dating back to the 70s, and many more.
The next Star Wars is two years off, but it's filming now, so maybe Corbould has more food tricks up his sleeves. He certainly has plenty of established Star Wars foods to choose from, and he could probably do something amazing with the non-canon food item "Bum-bum extract."