Tales of the Asp: Cannibal Candies, by Aidan Butler

     One of the Asp's less lucrative commercial enterprises was the Cannibal Candies Company, a shop he owned and operated in the small Connecticut town of Old Lyme.

     Perhaps in a more culturally daring urban area -- such as New York City, or New Haven -- Cannibal Candies would have been more prosperous. Or perhaps, as I rather suspect, the comestibles sold in the Asp's shop were so shocking that no change of venue would have secured him success.

     The Asp made few basic innovations in candy-making, if any. He simply put a macabre spin on long-established formulae. For example, he borrowed the idea of the jelly worm in making his over-sized jelly sperm cells. Caramel apples are an old favorite; he simply carved the apples into the shape of human skulls or heads before dipping them in caramel. Licorice whips have delighted children's palates for many generations; the Asp merely made the strands thicker and molded them to a curl, so that they resembled human intestines.

     It is difficult to imagine celebrating Easter without delicious milk chocolate bunnies. The Asp sought to create a similar association between births and chocolate babies. But his ingenuity would not rest at simply molding hollow, life-sized babies out of white and dark chocolate; the limbs of the babies he stuffed with toothsome caramel, which in his mind stretched out like muscle tissue being pulled apart; the bodies of the chocolate babies he stuffed with licorice intestines, colorful nougats, and little jelly hearts; perhaps at a creative loss -- or perhaps to suggest the low I.Q. of newborns -- he left the heads of his chocolate babies completely hollow.

     Since the demand for his products was minimal, the Asp was left with much time to devote to his study of genetic engineering. The Asp read about food companies' development of fat substitutes such as Olestra, which tasted identical to fat but did not add to people's weight; he read about chemical companies genetically engineering soy plants to resist herbicides which could then be used to control weeds without damaging the crop; and he read about soybeans' proteins being genetically altered to make them identical to meat proteins, so that vegetarian burgers and other forms of analog meats tasted more like the real thing. With feverish excitement, the Asp began designing ways to genetically alter human muscle tissue so that it would become similar in texture and taste to the fibers of fruits. The Asp's plan was to discover a method of inter-uterine surgery which would allow doctors to radically modify the genetic structure of human foetuses so that instead of giving birth to babies, mothers would be able to give birth to exotic new kinds of edible fruits. The Asp envisioned papayas, for example, which instead of rotting when left uneaten would simply continue to grow larger and sweeter as long as they were breast-fed by their mothers. The Asp planned to petition the Federal Government to make this form of genetic surgery mandatory for unwed and teenage mothers. Instead of birthing ravenous leeches -- future gang-members, vandals, and radicals -- women too lazy or morally corrupt to enter in holy matrimony would be forced to feed society with the succulent fruits of their labor.

     The Asp's menu of genetic marvels was well beyond the reach of genetic technology. He conceived of a dwarf pig with an extremely rigid tail which, after the pig was slain and gutted, would function both as a spit to hold it over fire with, then as the equivalent of a corndog's stick.

     The Pygmy Pig never was never bred, however; nor was the Fruit Baby. All of the Asp's food fantasies, including his sweets shop, were legally curtailed when state health officials read in horror Cannibal Candy Company's last advertisement in the New Haven Register.

     The advertisement boasted of a new candy embalming process which would make catering at wakes obsolete.

Tales of the Asp
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