Foods are both necessity and something we indulge in—from proper morning meals to snacks during lunch to an occasional bowl of popcorn during a movie night—it’s a fundamental part of our lives. Everyone understands it, which is why there are a variety of flavors, shapes, and colors, some of them designed in part to catch the eye. And with the increasing digital presence in our lives, it’s no surprise that those same foods made it into emojis (no less colorful or tasty-looking than the real thing).
Granted, the emojis vary depending on the operating system, platform, and even phone model, but largely, they are easily recognizable—a birthday cake is just as enticing, and a cup of digital coffee might smell of freshness to come. Such is their true intention, to convey the feeling without going into elaborate details. But what happens when you take something that was transferred from the real world to digital space… and then turn it around again? Well, this TikTok user wasn’t afraid of a challenge.
Ash Baber is a 20-year-old chef and he went viral on TikTok for his baking skills. However, he doesn’t simply share a new take on Caesar salads. Ash actually dedicated his time recreating the food emojis you might find on your phone, but aiming for exact replication instead of a generalized version.
He’s a student in Greater Manchester, and while cooking was his passion, he had to split time between schoolwork and his account, so the uploads could boast having great quality, but they weren’t too frequent. And when the UK announced the nation-wide lockdown, it was Ash’s time to fully shine (he posts his creations on Instagram as well).
He started his emoji food series because he thought the cake emoji was a bit strange—all white and strangely shaped. He wanted to see if he could recreate it exactly how it looks in the picture, and shared the process (and subsequent success) in the video.
“They’re emojis, so they’re not the most realistic.” Ash stated the time to make the emoji-based foods varies. Sometimes it can be only a few hours, other attempts require significantly more time. It all depends on how far-off the emoji is from the actual food and how much detail it has.
The donut and cupcake emojis were among those that took up a lot of time. However, it’s not because they required a lot when it came to the baking process—Ash wanted to replicate the exact way the sprinkles were placed on the foods, so he had to manually add each sprinkle with a zoomed-in version of the emoji as a guide.
The young chef said he didn’t expect the series to take off as it did. People were so amazed by his skill and creativity that they want to see his unique take on other foods. Usually the comment section of his videos chimes in with suggestions.
Out of all the emoji foods, Ash revealed it was the pancakes that gave him the most trouble. These seemingly innocuous golden circles were actually the hardest, especially since Ash wanted to recreate them as close to the source as possible.
Dango took him about an hour, standing as one of the easier foods he recreated. This further proves that the food’s looks reveal next to nothing about its creation process. And while Ash said he’s not planning to recreate the entire food emoji library, he’s willing to bake until there’s a demand.
The croissant emoji took entire three days to make, likely because of all the layers (and let’s not forget it was to be slightly round). French cuisine, it appears, demands perfection even in its digital form. Luckily, Ash is sufficiently dedicated to his craft to carry on with the task.