When Emilie Lewis learned Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum had added her Baby Bel wax wrapper egg to its collection of oddities, she almost started crying.
The 20-year-old started the project six years ago as a way of keeping her hands busy. The wax structure grew until it weighed six pounds and had an 18-inch circumference.
Ironically, Emilie is lactose intolerant, so she and mom Janet Lewis don't eat all that much cheese. They've had to rely on Baby Bel wax donations from family and friends to make the egg grow.
When Janet learned Ripley's was visiting Science North in August to purchase unusual items for its museums during its Bizarre Buying Bazaar, she thought the Baby Bel egg just might fit that description.
Because the women were due to visit the science centre with relatives anyway, Janet said she figured it was the perfect opportunity to see if Ripley's was interested in Emilie's unusual creation.
Unfortunately, Emilie was feeling a bit under the weather that day, and wasn't able to go on the family outing, so Janet brought in the egg on her behalf.
“I didn't know they were actually going to buy it, to tell you the truth,” Emilie said. “I thought they were just going to look at it, and say it's just wax.”
Janet said she toted the wax creation to Science North in a cooler, and set it in front of Edward Meyer, vice-president of exhibits and archives at Ripley Entertainment Inc.
“He looked at me and said 'Ohhh, this looks promising. This could be interesting,” Janet said. “I pulled it out. His first reaction as he looked at it was 'What is that?' I had to explain to him it's a mini Baby Bel wax egg.”
Although Meyer didn't offer the family any cash for the egg, they did receive a lifetime pass for a family of four to any Ripley's museum, as well as a certificate saying the museum had purchased the creation.
The egg is now in Florida, where Ripley's staffers are making a special case for it and putting together a plaque explaining the art project's back story. The museum is still deciding where it will be displayed.
Ripley's actually purchased several items from Sudburians during the Bizarre Buying Bazaar.
Besides Emilie's egg, the museum bought an Ecadorian blowgun, a Malaysian sword, a rock formation from Manitoulin Island, a 19th century Persian military helmet, a door decoration made from a fungi and a bikini bra top made from duct tape.
Janet said she was disappointed Emilie wasn't there for the transaction with Ripley's, but her reaction when the family got back home made up for it.
“I think at first she didn't quite believe me, and then when I showed her the certificate, she was pretty excited,” she said. “You could see the tears in her eyes. She was excited her ball is going to be showcased so everyone can see it.”
In giving the egg to Ripley's, Emilie said she feels like she's checked off an item on her personal bucket list.
While she's given away her original creation, Emilie has now started a new Baby Bel wax project. She's started to make an Iron Man helmet out of the red cheese wrappers, although she hasn't gotten far yet.
Janet said she wants to thank the community for their donations of wax over the years, as without them, the egg would never have gotten so large.
When asked what people will think of the creation when they see it in museums, Janet said she thinks they'll wonder why anyone would make something like that.
“I would ask 'Why?'” she said. “Are you kidding? I have no idea why somebody would do that other than the fact that we're weird. We're OK with being weird though.”