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Fooled ya!


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wendy Manalo makes the perfect banana split with zero calories, zero fat and zero carbs. In fact, creating such delectable, guilt-free treats is one of her favorite things to do. Is she some kind of magician?

The answer is, sort of, though hers is not of the culinary persuasion. Although Manalo's treats look good enough to eat, they are actually candles made from high-quality soy wax. The magic is in their true-to-life appearance and the fact that everything smells exactly as it should.

“;I buy all different fragrances, like licorice, caramel, cinnamon, lemon chiffon and hot fudge,”; she said. If she can't find the fragrance she's looking for, the company she works with tries to come up with something new to add to its line.

Manalo not only has a deep love for candles, but also an appreciation for the scents of the islands ... and food.

“;I have something for everyone,”; she said, noting that the strawberry shortcake is her most popular creation, especially with men. “;I love the reaction I get from people.”;

Manalo started making simple, fragrant soaps, which led to scented bath and body products and, later, to candles.

“;One day, I just got an idea in my head,”; she recalled. “;I saw the banana split happening and began searching for someone to create molds. My mind went in a million directions.”;

Manalo works out of her home and sells her products, priced from $4 to $24, at local craft shows and on her Web site, and response has been great.

“;People are going crazy for what I offer. By word of mouth, it's spread like wildfire.”;

That's no wonder. Other online food candle sites display work that's not quite as captivating visually or priced at around double of what Manalo charges.

The process of making the candle creations, which include an array of desserts and specialty coffees, is labor intensive.

Some wax needs to go through a wax melter, while others get melted in the oven. Wax depicting fluffy toppings such as whipped cream is created using a typical kitchen tool, the hand mixer.

“;The kitchen becomes a warehouse filled with candles and wax,”; Manalo said.

While in production, she's “;constantly on the go,”; melting, pouring, coloring and cooling the wax, adding fragrance and drilling pieces to add detail and insert wicks. Ice cream sundaes tend to take longer because of its many ingredients: berries, whipped cream and ice cream scoops.

“;It's a constant effort, which makes things fun,”; she said.

Manalo said the average burn time for each candle is 15 to 40 hours. She uses all-natural, lead-free wicks for cleaner, longer burns.

Her most recent challenge has been creating tiramisu. “;I've already got the Frangelico fragrance, but it will be extremely difficult to make,”; Manalo said.

The project rivals her earlier trifle and cupcake creations, both demanding pieces.

Among Manalo's favorites are the trifle, banana split, chai coffee and hot fudge brownie delight.

“;I'm really proud of them,”; she said. “;The end result really paid off. I get so excited when customers are in awe of how authentic things look and the way things smell. I really get pleasure from their reactions.”;

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On the Net:

» lmbathandbody.com