When Chris Pratt ran with velociraptors and fought colossal dino-beasts on the cineplex screen this summer, moviegoers munched popcorn nostalgically and cheered “rah!” in celebration at the revival of a beloved movie franchise. Now, as summer begins to wane, we see in the pages of food industry news that a well-known single-cup coffee brewing machine and a renowned canned soup company have joined forces to launch a “brewed on demand” soup cup that sorta reminds me of the dorm room cooking hacks in which nearly anything, but especially ramen noodles, could be “cooked” in a standard drip coffee pot, for lack of real kitchen equipment.
Everything old is new again.
But as the protagonists of the original movie franchise-starter Jurassic Park debated:
John Hammond: “I don’t think you’re giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody’s ever done before…”
Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
What is this genetically modified brewing beast that wrought noodle soup whence the nozzle French Roast coffee normally drippeth? I should disclaim that I haven’t yet tried the soup product in question but that I am curious and I’d be willing to give it a whirl on the machine in our office kitchen. However, as a food industry marketer who has seen a fair share of well-intentioned line extensions from A-list brands go bust, I’m watching this space with a bit of healthy skepticism. It may very well turn out to be a case of a product for which a company has the technology and could make – like an Indominus Rex – but perhaps just shouldn’t. We’ll see. Meanwhile, this intriguing mash-up sent my mind a-wandering: what other warm, liquid-y food products could be made via a customized coffee brewing pod… but really just shouldn’t:
- Gravy. Some sniffy gourmands and home cooks may deign to call it “finishing sauce,” but the combination of meat juices, spices and thickeners is just good-ol’ gravy to millions of traditional folks. Need a fresh spoonful to slather over leftover roast beef brought to the office for Tuesday lunch? Pop in a pod and brew up a custom batch of gravy for one. Or not. #wrong
- Pasta sauce. Before there were semi-decent jarred sauces like Prego, there were Kraft boxes of “spaghetti dinners” in the 1970s that contained shelf-stable starters for noodle moisteners (and that’s about all the red, tomato-esque liquids did: moisten. Flavor, not so much.) Couldn’t that insipid topper be brewed for solo orders in a coffee machine? Don’t even think about this sacrilege around Sicilian grandmothers.
- Ganache. The ideal = warm decadent chocolate stirred up by Ina Garten, dripping down the sides of a double-layer mocha cake. The coffee machine reality = choklit goo analogue.
- Confit. Ah, the rich joys of duck meat simmered gently in its own fat. Ew, the horrors of rewarmed animal lipids dripping out of a pod. Mon dieu.
- Hot toddies. This may not actually be so far-fetched. With the impending commercial release of powdered alcohol – purportedly for creating adult beverages while camping in the wilderness where it’s impractical to tote equivalent weights of booze by volume – instant cocktails are nearly a reality. So far the talk has been about cold drinkable applications, but perhaps-and-I’m-not-kidding there could be WARM variations of favorites such as Hot Buttered Rum that drip to order from pod machines on our kitchen countertops. Bar chefs and mixologists, look away in horror.
I’m no Luddite, but food innovation needs to happen with purpose and value. Will this latest soup experiment charm and delight us, or will it “eat the tourists”?
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