This Artist Makes E. coli-Shaped Popsicles

For those who prefer plants to pathogens, there’s popsicle cacti, too

What better way to get to know the HIV, MRSA or chicken pox microbes but to lick them? This seems to be the thinking behind "Dangerous Popsicles," a new project by Chinese designer Wei Li. Using custom-built molds, Li creates giant frozen treats of both germ and cactus-shaped popsicles, each of which contains enough detail to depict individual spines, thorns, envelope proteins or other biolgically correct protuberances. 

The idea, Li says, is to create a conflict of interests in popsicle eaters' brains. On the one hand, they have the association with deadly disease, pain or danger. On the other, they have the deliciousness that is frozen sugar water. "Dangerous Popsicles create a unique sensory experience," Li writes. "Before tasting with your tongue, you first taste with your eyes and mind."

Rather than focusing design work solely on improving functionality or aesthetics, Li told Wired, she prefers to approach it as a tool for "pushing the boundaries of what an experience can be."

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.