…THAT ARE STILL AROUND
Through a range of topics from airline food to recipe development, JAN the Journal Volume 7 explored the future of food and food innovation like never before. Every year, China and the US hand out almost a million patent grants, many of which involve food-related inventions. And while a lot of ideas become widely adopted, the truth is that most of them are dead in the water. In other words, for every pizza-making robot, there are at least 10 bad ideas (carbonated yoghurt, anyone?). More fascinating still is that many of these ideas that we thought have gradually faded from memory are actually still around. Here, in no particular order, is a short list of some of the worst food inventions of all time that someone, somewhere, decided were worth holding on to.
THE PRETZEL DOG
You like a pretzel, especially when you’re a tourist ambling through the streets of New York to look like you “fit in”. But then… conundrum… you also like a hot dog, which you’ll find at the vendor right across from the pretzel stand. If only someone would think of combining the two… oh, hang on, they did! And while they’re not as popular as they were as when they were invented some time during the early 20th century, there is still a company in the American Midwest that makes them, and quite a few recipes online aimed at reviving this nostalgic American hit. Puts one in mind of those vetkoek hot dogs we used to get at snoepies when we were children, doesn’t it?
THE PIZZA CONE
Still in New York, one day, a vendor saw a gap when the umpteenth customer complained of being so busy and important that the idea of grabbing a piece of sliced pizza was just too inconvenient to suit their lifestyle. Surely, if you can get a mobile phone (albeit the size of a brick) along with a Filofax, surely you should be able to get your pizza slice in a cone format. Oddly enough, that concept was one of the few trends that survived beyond the 80s, and never needed a comeback.
THE THUMB LOLLIPOP
You’d think the idea of a piece of hard candy that slips over a child’s thumb to discourage them from thumb-sucking sounds like a nonstarter, but think again. They might not have been that effective at bringing an end to a bad habit, but they’ve invented an entirely new one; slipping a piece of candy over your finger and sucking it. And, surprisingly, they’re not that hard to find. The Candy Toy Factory sells them in boxes of 12.
If you wanted to be fancy, you could call it a portmanteau word that combines the words spoon and fork, but that would mean you don’t get the whole reason for the spork’s existence. It’s not supposed to be fancy. On the other hand, how practical is it, really? You’ve got a spoon with a spiky tip through which to lose half your spoonful of soup on the way to your mouth, and super short poky bits that are long enough to pierce a carrot but too short to keep it on the implement. But, when camping, think of how much lighter your rug sack will be when you omit one item of cutlery.
THE WINE CONDOM
Think wine stopper, not cabernet-flavoured contraceptives. Perhaps disturbingly to some, this conversation starter was invented by a mother and her son, who were looking for a wine stopper one night. Skipping over the details, when they couldn’t find one, they got inventive. The wine condom has since become a top seller.