How do you top a life-size facsimile of Han Solo frozen in guacamole? Or a homemade Ms. Pac Man arcade table blanketed in avocado, its maze dotted with habanero energizers, ghost-shaped tortilla chips and food prizes at the bottom? You don't.
Last year's Guac Bowl, reached spectacular, dizzying -- some would say ridiculous -- heights. After years of elaborate failed attempts, contest organizer Adam Pava finally won his first award for Best Presentation with his Ms. Guac Man entry. He bested his friend and chief rival, art director Rob Saccenti, who conceived and built He's No Guac To Me Dead a.k.a. Guac Solo.
Now in its ninth or perhaps tenth year (records are spotty on Guac Bowl's genesis), what started as a casual bet between friends has evolved into a fierce annual competition held every Super Bowl Sunday.
"[Rob] and I have had an ongoing battle, and I think we both reached our limit last year," Pava says. "We're both going smaller and more intricate this year."
As the rivalry has grown, so have the guacs. "The guacs are getting bigger and bigger," says Pava, who hosts the event at his home. "Last year some people got relegated to the entry hall. They weren't happy because people just walked past their guacs."
Guac Bowl 2009 had 75 to 100 attendees and almost 40 guacamoles in competition. Pava expects a slightly larger crowd this year. Anyone who attends can vote on the guacs, which are divided into three categories: Best Traditional, Best Alternative and Best Presentation, the most coveted award. But there's a dark side to potential Guac Bowl glory: the Icarus Award, presented to the guac that "soars closest to the sun, only to fall the farthest."
Previous Icarus winners include a guacamole beer that looked and tasted like vomit in a bottle, frozen guacamole popsicles, a Christmas guac topped with crushed candy canes, a football-shaped piñata filled with guacamole and Pava's 2008 entry, Guacweiler Beach. The guac was so big he had to leave outside. It rained. A cat walked through it. He thinks, he hopes no one actually ate it.
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As always, Pava expects to see plenty of entries based on recent movies, TV shows and pop culture references. Two years ago, Guac Obama was a popular theme. "I think we might have a few "Hurt Guackers" this year," he says, referring to the highly praised Kathryn Bigelow film, The Hurt Locker.
"That's the great thing about the Guac Bowl and guacamole as a medium for art," Pava says. "One idea can be done so many different ways."