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The World Famous Rock Food Table! (What It Is and How To See It!)

rock food table display

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If you’ve been around some of the major rock and mineral shows over the years, there’s a very good chance you might have see it…the famous Rock Food Table.

A table full of rocks and minerals that look so much like food, more than a few people have tried to eat at the feast over the years because of how real it looks.

But if you’ve never heard of or seen this amazing display of rocks and minerals for yourself, you’ll want to be sure to keep reading!

What Is The Rock Food Table?

On the central table is a large dinner set for eight people, including a huge petrified wood ham. In the middle of the table sits a fruit bowl full of prunes, which are actually obsidian “Apache tears,“.

And the blueberries made of azurite, hominy made of Pearl slugs, which are made by mollusks in the mud of the Mississippi River.

rock food table dinner setup
Rock Food Table (used with permission from etgms.org)

And don’t be fooled by the pepper in the pepper shaker, because it’s actually ash from when Mount St. Helens blew its top in 1980.

The black sand from the beaches of Hawai’i is used to make the tea in the porcelain cups. A piece of fossilized shark vertebrae on the dessert table looks exactly like an oatmeal cookie.

And next to the oatmeal cookie is a box of shiny gemstone truffles that look too good to pass up.

rock food table display
Rock Food Table (used with permission from etgms.org)

History of The Rock Food Table

The Rock Food Table was the brain-child of Bill and Lois Pattillo who first brought it to life in 1983. It was originally known as the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Society Food Table.

It was a Gem and Mineral Show in Portland, Oregon, in 1982 that Bill and Lois visited when they first had the idea. While they were enjoying the exhibits at the show, they saw a display of “stone pastries” that looked like a cake, a sweet roll, a piece of pie and other foods.

rock food table breakfast exhibit
Rock Food Table (used with permission from etgms.org)

When the couple returned from vacation to their hometown of Robstown, Texas is when they decided to put together their own table of rocks and minerals that resembled food items.

It wasn’t that difficult for Bill and Lois to actually accomplish because they already owned several such specimens that looked just like food.

But they needed more. So they called some friends.

rock food table breakfast
Rock Food Table (used with permission from etgms.org)

Calling In Reinforcements

In order to put together a large enough spread to fill an entire table Bill and Lois reached out to other club members in the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Society in Corpus Christi, Texas to bring their own specimens that looked like food. And in 1983, that’s exactly what happened.

A number of club members brought their own personal food look-alikes, combined them with the rocks Bill and Lois had, and the Rock Food Table was born.

The following year, after members had seen the results of the previous years Rock Food Table, even more items were contributed to make the display even more extravagant.

rock food table dessert
Rock Food Table (used with permission from etgms.org)

Hitting The Road With The Rock Food Table

As you can imagine, a lot of folks were in awe at the display of “food” that was in that first show. Bill and Lois were approached by other Rock and Gem Clubs and were invited to display the Rock Food Table at those shows as well.

And that’s when the display really started getting traction.

As a matter of fact, since that first rock and gem show in 1983, the Rock Food Table has traveled more than 100,000 miles and has visited 41 different show locations.

rock food table dessert
Rock Food Table (used with permission from etgms.org)

How Do Visitors React To The Rock Food Table?

According to the East Texas Gem and Mineral Society website, almost every time the exhibit is set up at a show, some type of incident takes place. This in spite of the fact there are four “Do Not Touch” signs on the table.

For example, there have been instances where people have tried to throw away some of the items because they thought they were left there by mistake.

One young man even said that he had put one of the items in his mouth while Bill and Lois were away from the exhibit because he thought it was food! He didn’t bite down though. Good thing.

food that looks like rocks
Rock Food Table (used with permission from etgms.org)

The Rock Food Table Today

As you can imagine, the Rock Food Table has gained a lot of popularity over the years, and continues to grow as more and more collectors contribute to it.

Today, there are 383 pieces in the collection!

In 2017 the Rock Food Table was donated to the East Texas Gem and Mineral Society. You can request to have the Rock Food Table displayed at nearby venues. Contact etgms.org if this is something you or your club would be interested in.

If you’d like to see the Rock Food Table in person, there are a couple shows coming up where it will be featured.

East Texas Gem and Mineral Society – Annual Gemstone and Jewelry Show

January 27-29 2023

Visit etgms.org for more info

Houston Gem and Mineral Society – Annual Gem, Mineral, Jewelry and Fossil Show

November 11-13, 2022

Visit hgms.org for more info

Information for this article was sourced from East Texas Gem and Mineral Society and the article, The ‘Rock Food’ Feast That Looks Good Enough to Eat

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