Incredible Inedibles. Prices vary: cherry cheesecake is $25. The Tifanee Tree, 1036 Wisconsin Ave. 333-4323
Incredible Inedibles, they're called, but they look so delicious your salivaries will go into action at first glance. They won't go stale, won't wilt, and if you buy the cherry cheesecake shown here, you won't gain an ounce: it's food for your eyes, not the stomach. Philadelphia artist Carolynn Hayward Jackson created the realistic-looking dough-and-plaster victuals as a practical joke on dinner guests. Now, many of her customers are people who want to buy items that mean something special. (One woman gave her attorney-husband a hoagie that served as a paperweight on his desk until an unknowing cleaning woman, thinking it was stale, threw it away.) Each item is painted with acrylics and each has six to eight coats of glaze and paint. Working from color illustrations in cookbooks or from real life, Jackson individually crafts each bean in a bean soup, each olive, each raisin in a bowl of cereal, each cornflake, each strand of spaghetti. Like fellow artists in other media, she signs her work. The Tifanee Tree says the fake food is so popular that "they come in and go right out" -- the store has sold 77 pieces in six weeks.