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Dude, Sweet owner puts heart and soul into creation

Posted 7:10pm on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013

We caught up with Katherine Clapner, owner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate (two shops in Dallas, one in Fort Worth), who is the mad scientist behind the anatomically correct human heart made of chocolate. As you might imagine, we had a few questions for her about the heart, and its connection to the Flaming Lips.

How did you hook up with the Flaming Lips in the first place?

I met [lead singer] Wayne Coyne on a plane -- seriously. I was coming back from New York, and I saw him two aisles ahead of me. I went up to him and said: "Is your name Wayne?" He said yes, and I was like: "Oh, my gosh, I gotta get a photo." I turned into a child, you know, a screaming fan. We were just talking, and he asked what I did for a living. I told him, and he said: "Would you like to do something for the Flaming Lips?" And I was like: "Hell, yeah!"

And then you had a few projects before this heart came about [the first was six chocolate skulls that had rainbow brains inside]. How does your process work? Is it collaborative?

It's very collaborative. He shoots me a lot of images when he sees stuff, and I shoot him images, and then we go back and forth. Then I had gotten the heart. I had been wanting to do an anatomically correct heart, but I kept seeing these molds for them that were all one-dimensional, so I actually had Dallas artist Joshua King create a mold out of something that I bought online for just this project.

I've got another one that we're gonna be working on later, that I can't really say what it is. But it's gonna be insane; it's one I've been wanting to do for a while, but it's gonna take a little while to get the mold made.

Wayne likes to do something fun -- that's the thing I like best. And I like to make stuff and take images from his mind and make it into something that also tastes good. That's first and foremost.

There's a duality to your heart creation. A lot of people will marvel over it, and some people, who might be a little squeamish to begin with, might find it a little creepy.

There's about 1 percentile that's like "Oh, my god, that's disgusting." And I don't care. Because No. 1, I can't please everybody. It's a form of expression, whether it's food, music, art, writing. It's very subjective. And I am of the school of thought, if you don't like something, don't buy it, don't watch it ...

There's a lot more strange stuff that's done out of chocolate than that. Chocolate dolls -- they freak me out. A baby head -- I was like, "Oh, wow, that's so weird." But then I also said, "Oh, my gosh, they made that so incredibly real-looking." So I look at skill level.

But really, I don't think about that kind of stuff with my work. I try to make something unique that hasn't been done before, and that's it. If there's revulsion, what are you gonna do? You know, I don't like pineapple with food. It is what it is.

Revulsion aside, there are a lot of people talking about it. This heart has caught fire. What do you think of the overall reaction?

I never expected it, never in a million years. Anytime anything goes over well, I'm always surprised and happy. I'm doing it for a really killer band, so it got a lot of play because of that.

How long does it take you to create one heart, and what kind of chocolate is it made of?

I can get two done an hour, and it's essentially like our Crack [in the Box] -- great 72 percent South American chocolate.

The chocolate heart retails at Dude, Sweet (www.dudesweetchocolate.com) for $45. It is also sold online (for $60) as part of a promotion for the Flaming Lips -- the online version comes embedded with a USB drive that includes 15 songs from the band. Supplies are limited.

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