Good Eats, Great Costumes
There's only one person to call when you want to dress up like your favorite snack: Amanda Kibler, the single-person wardrobe department for Good Eats with Alton Brown. On the show, Alton encounters zany characters who help explain kitchen mysteries, like why dough rises or milk turns sour. So over the years, Amanda has created all kinds of kooky costumes, like the Kool-Aid man and Alvin the Albacore.
We asked Amanda to design food-inspired Halloween costumes, and she pulled out all the tricks she uses on the job. She promised that anyone with a glue gun can re-create them: The costumes are made with everyday items from around the house and simple crafts-store goods. "Alton likes the costumes on the show to have a homemade feel," Amanda says. "Some of the best things are created on a shoestring." The only real challenge to these projects might be talking a 7-year-old into dressing up as a cupcake instead of Hannah Montana...
Boxes present all kinds of costume possibilities: "Cover one in rock salt and you’ll have a dancing sugar cube," Amanda says. "Or you could make a juice box and use a pool noodle as a straw. It’s all about finding the right box." For this outfit, she cut curves into the top of a box and filled it with foam fries. The 1950s-style lettering is a Good Eats twist. "Alton likes a retro, classic look mixed with modern things. We reference lots of old movies and pop culture."
Felt and fleece are popular materials on the Good Eats set because they don’t ravel, and they come in lots of bright colors. "Color is so important when you’re working with food," Amanda says. She often starts with a piece of white foam (available at crafts stores), cuts it to shape, then covers it with felt or fleece. "You can do a lot with foam - you can be a carrot, banana, pickle, pea pod."
Designer Amanda Kibler knows, from dressing grown men as leafy greens on Alton’s show, that a costume has to be functional, with room to move. "Whatever shape you choose, you have to be able to walk around," she says. To make this spray-painted foam bacon strip safe for trick-or-treating, she hot-glued the front and back pieces together only down to the knees.
Each costume on Good Eats is created to withstand the test of time - and Alton’s high jinks. This felt egg is a riff on some rice-grain costumes Amanda once made for a show. The outfits held up fine, even as two actors banged into each other to mimic cooking risotto. The costumes still hang in the wardrobe closet, so this egg should last, too. "You could use any of these costumes next year," Amanda says.
Amanda loves using old, forgotten items from around the house in her designs. The red and brown "sprinkles" on this cupcake are actually hair curlers. "On Good Eats, we try to use interesting materials in unexpected ways," she says. She has used steel wool to make aliens, waffles to make a belt buckle and place mats to make armor. "If I laugh while I’m choosing materials for a costume," she says, "I feel like I'm right on track."