Lenny, the Chocolate Moose
Depending on your trajectory, the world's only life-size chocolate moose is either the first or last worthy Roadside attraction you will find in Maine. "Lenny," as he has been named, is a mute-but-cheery ambassador for The Pine Tree state and a confection of Maine's most marketable civic animal -- if you don't count the lobster -- with the insatiable sweet tooth evident in most of its inhabitants.
Lenny draws the tourists to Len Libby Candies, a store that sells handcrafted chocolate and ice cream just south of Portland. Locals were jammed into the store on the evening we visited but ignored Lenny, their attention drawn to the display cases of candies and butternut crunch. Perhaps they needed a sugar burn to stay warm; it was a cool night./p>
Lenny's sculptor, reportedly a former Fulbright fellow, traveled to Freeport to study the stuffed moose on display in the lobby of L. L. Bean. He then spent a month slathering, slapping, and dripping 1,700 pounds of "superlative grade" milk chocolate over a wire lathe to create Lenny -- eight feet tall and over nine feet from nose to tail -- a process lovingly documented in a video that loops endlessly on a TV monitor next to his creation. Lenny stands in the Len Libby ice cream parlor, behind a wooden fence to prevent licking, in front of a mural of a log cabin and -- no surprise -- pine trees. His feet disappear in a pond of white chocolate, dyed blue./p>
Lenny was unveiled on July 1, 1997, and seems to have held up remarkably well, especially given the tragic track record of some other giant roadside food attractions. One of the store's clerks told us that the temperature around Lenny can never rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not really a problem in an ice cream parlor in Maine.
Aside from Lenny's principal claim to fame, he is also reportedly "the world's largest chocolate animal sculpture" -- which makes us wonder what other animals are out there, waiting to be discovered, rendered out of the sticky stuff.