Snoop Dogg is no doubt a household name, one that’s synonymous with weed, women, and the West Coast. With his first foray into wine, Snoop may have yet another W under his belt. Expertly weaving his own vision while never forgetting to represent where he came from, Snoop has always been an unlikely face for many of his ventures beyond music, continually subverting our expectations. I suppose one could say gin & juice is to Snoop Doggy Dog as the new Cali Red is to Uncle Snoop, another evolution of possibilities.
Collaborating with gangsta-adjacent wine brand 19 Crimes, Snoop Dogg brings their first ever California-bottled offering to fans. Sourced from NorCal’s Lodi region, Cali Red blends Petite Syrah 65%, Zinfandel 30%, and Merlot 5%. A complimentary crimson-concoction to Snoop’s canine cool. The blend also uses all-American oak, introducing a distinct smokiness that provides vanilla and chocolate.
A look into the backstory of the brand reveals that 19 Crimes is based upon 18th century British convicts turned colonists that were exiled to Australia as punishment in place of death. The 19 Crimes were created during the Industrial Revolution as an answer to the growing overpopulation of Great Britain, which resulted in an increase of crime. With an antiquated legal system, grossly overwhelmed by criminal cases and crowded prisons, Britain declared exile to Australia as punishment. Most convicts never survived the trip. In actuality, there were a reported 200 crimes that could seal one’s fate to the land down under.
Marrying the Northern California sweetness to Snoop’s South California smoothness creates the perfect red and blue compliment at just $12.99 a bottle. The wine also has an AR feature that allows you to scan the label, revealing a special message from Snoop. By downloading the “Living Wine Labels” app, users can hold their mobile devices over any Cali Red label and be greeted by words of wisdom, affirmations and of course, Snoop’s famously known swagger.
While the pandemic has kept us out of movie theaters, folks have been trying to find fun alternatives to just chilling to Netflix on the couch.
Unfortunately, not everybody has a drive-in theater or a projector screen on handy to get outdoors with films. However, a new concept could be promising, as it brings both the flicks and the food to your driveway.
As part of an ongoing sweepstakes/giveaway, Blue Bunny has constructed a custom truck that serves up ice cream AND comes with a 11-foot by 6-foot movie screen. It can roll up to your driveway, get you some treats, and serve as your out-of-home theater all in one.
We can get outdoors but still be comfortably safe, social distance on the lawn, get some awesome treats, and cozy up for a big screen film all at the same time. Sounds like a fantastic experience to get on your own front lawn.
It would be dope if we could book this for ourselves, but for this iteration, Blue Bunny is limiting the truck to a few select cities and a chance to get the truck in your driveway. You can enter at Funlightenment.com to try and secure one of those private screenings, which can happen in either Denver, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, or Le Mars, Iowa, depending on the date.
Even if this is just a one-time giveaway for now, though, this is something food truck owners everywhere should take note of. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I would be down to book one of my favorite food trucks for a private screening if they could bring me some awesome eats alongside a giant screen to play my film of choice on.
Could be an interesting and cool new way for food trucks to make money, but for people to also get outside in a safe and fun way to watch movies.
There have been hundreds of afternoons where a quick pick-up of some refreshing honey milk tea with boba was desperately needed to fuel the occasional sleepy colleague and I. While an emoji wasn’t necessary to express our bubble tea cravings, it would have been more than welcome had it existed.
Now it does.
Last Friday was World Emoji Day, and with it came the announcement of a new emoji update for Facebook, Google, and Apple scheduled to launch in the latter half of 2020.
Hopefully, once this pandemic’s over and you’re trying to get some boba or tamales with friends, you’ll be able to express your excitement in emoji form. In the meantime, I’ll be working on a tamale boba truck concept. That sounds so fire right now.
With the current state of the world, folks are trying very hard to limit the number of things they touch with their bare hands. Especially when it’s related to food and drink.
In response to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, Coca-Cola is upgrading their Freestyle machines to feature a new contactless option for those trying to avoid surfaces.
The touchscreen soda fountains offer over one hundred different soda flavor combinations based off Coca-Cola products.
While the new machines won’t even require you to download an accompanying app, there is one available that allows you to preset your drink combinations.
Those who would rather keep it simple, however, will only need to open their camera and point it at the on-screen QR code. An ordering interface will open up allowing the customer to select their beverage choice and have it poured out in seconds.
Coca-Cola plans to roll out 10,000 new contactless machines by the end of this summer and upgrade the feature to all existing machines by the end of the year.
Is summer complete without soda to beat the sun? We’re gonna be sippin’ on a lot in this hot weather, so we should consider how it’s made and where the soda can come from, especially if there’s a way to make your own from scratch.
Today, soda is typically made via industrial processes that bubble carbon dioxide through water. Tons of it is consumed around the world, as major brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and the like have made carbonated beverages immensely popular.
However, it is possible to create your own natural form of carbonated soda at home, and it’s a pretty straightforward process. Foodbeast Chris Abouabdo was able to use the “ginger bug” method on our Twitch streams to make his own fizzy orange soda without using sparkling water, SodaStream machines, or any other technology.
Before getting into the method, it should be noted that there are other ways of getting natural “soda water.” Several springs, especially in areas that have or have had high volcanic activity, may have enough carbon dioxide naturally dissolved inside that it may be fizzy upon drinking. Chemist Joseph Priestley later came up with a method to naturally impart the gas into the water, the basis of how the industry makes soda today.
The “ginger bug” method is a third, separate method that would be more akin to how beer gets it fizz. By fermenting ginger with sugar, microbes naturally present in ginger ferment it to produce carbon dioxide, with negligible amounts of alcohol produced. The result is a refreshing sparkling beverage that anybody can drink and enjoy.
A ginger bug does take a couple of days to make on its own, and you can then add whichever flavors you like. After another couple of days of fermentation, the soda is ready to chill and serve.
It’s a more intensive and longer process than sticking water and a capsule into a SodaStream then adding your own juice, or just even grabbing a bottle or can from the fridge. For those looking to make their own soda from scratch, however, this is one of the few ways to do so.
To see the process in full, you can view the above video or check out our stream on Twitch, which breaks down the process in detail.
Macaroni and cheese. Ice cream. French fries. Jack Daniel’s whisky. Frozen foods in general.
We wouldn’t have any of the above foods, plus many others, were it not for Black food innovators and figureheads that have made significant contributions and altered the way we eat and make food today.
Below are just some of the stories of these incredibly talented and inspiring individuals. Some of these names came from research via the New York Times and Food and Wine, but we’ve also included historical sourcing and context for each person as well. You can click on their names to view those original pieces.
Known as “Uncle Nearest,” Nathan Green was a skilled distiller who mastered the “Lincoln County” process. This method of distilling is thought by food historians and whiskey experts alike to have been brought in by slaves, and uses charcoal to filter and purify foods. The “Lincoln County” process, in particular, uses sugar maple charcoal to filter bourbon.
Green trained hired hand Jasper Newton Daniel (known to the world as “Jack Daniel”) while working on a priest’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Daniel eventually made him the first master distiller of Jack Daniel’s, the famous Tennessee whisky many people drink today.
While Jack Daniel’s shares the story of Green on their website, an all minority-led whisky brand named “Uncle Nearest” continues to build upon his legacy with spirits that use the same distilling technique, but feature Green’s name on the bottle.
While Thomas Jefferson is sometimes credited with bringing foods like mac & cheese and ice cream to the United States, Hemings was the one who actually learned to make them. A slave in the ownership of Jefferson prior to his presidency, Hemings traveled with him to France in 1784 specifically to learn the art of French cuisine.
Hemings became the first American trained as a French chef in history as a result, bringing back several dishes to the United States. French fries, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, creme brulee, French meringues, and French whipped cream are just a few examples. These dishes and others would be incorporated in Hemings’ signature half-French, half-Virginian style of cooking he became renowned for.
Hemings would later also cook one of the most famous dinners in American history: the one between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton that settled who would pay for the Revolutionary War and established Washington, D.C. as the United States’ capital. He eventually was freed by Jefferson in 1796.
Zephyr Wright was the personal chef for President Lyndon B. Johnson and his family for over twenty years. It was her cooking that made the Johnson household a popular one for D.C. dinner parties.
Wright would follow Johnson to the White House during his tenure, and was in charge of the home cooking in the White House kitchen. She would also temporarily cook all meals, including VIP ones, in between the tenures of two White House Executive Chefs.
Wright is thought to have heavily influenced Johnson’s support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964,. Wright was known to have spoken up to the President during his time in Congress about the injustices she faced road tripping between Texas and D.C. during congressional recesses, saying that she was not allowed to use the bathroom in areas she was driving through, and couldn’t stop off and eat at restaurants. President Johnson reportedly used some of her stories to convince Congress to sign the bill. He would also give her a White House pen when the act was signed into law.
The Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase was the heart and soul of Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans across seven decades. Known for her fried chicken, red beans and rice, gumbo, and other classics, Chase started out in the 1940s when she got a job as a server at a restaurant. She eventually took over the helm and made it a safe haven for anyone to come and eat at.
Dooky Chase’s was known as one of the few places that it was publicly okay for races to mix at, since the cops wouldn’t bother activists inside the restaurant. Thus, leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including local leaders and national ones like Martin Luther King Jr., would often strategize while eating there.
Chase would go on to serve presidents like Barack Obama and George W. Bush, along with Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and other influential figures. Disney has even made a movie with a character inspired by her: Princess Tiana of Princess and the Frog.
Around the early 1880s, Abby Fisher was known for her award-winning pickles and the Mrs. Abby Fisher Pickle Company in San Francisco. She had at least 35 years of cooking experience, some estimates had it, and the awards she won for her food reflected that.
However, Fisher is probably best known for publishing one of the first cookbooks ever authored by an African-American woman. The book, called What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, contains over 160 recipes and uses the dictated words of Fisher herself.
The cookbook surged in popularity in the late 20th century when a publisher began reprinting it in 1995. Today, it offers a window into these early recipes that places like museums try to recreate for guests to sample.
Edna Lewis became a legend while she cooked at Cafe Nicholson in Midtown Manhattan starting in 1949. Her fame and Southern recipes led to guests like Marlon Brando, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Salvador Dali showing up for dinner. After stepping away from the chef’s role (as an active partner) in 1952, she would lecture at the American Museum of Natural History while working as a chef and private caterer.
Lewis would later become inspired to write her first cookbook as demand for them grew in 1972. She was one of the first African-American women from the South that would publish a cookbook that did not hide her name, gender, or race. She would go on to publish more in the future, eventually becoming known as the Grand Dame and Grand Doyenne of Southern cooking.
The Bethune family, to this day, runs Brenda’s Bar-Be-Que Pit in Montgomery, Alabama. Open since 1942, the restaurant would become an important hub for those in the Civil Rights Movement.
After Rosa Parks infamously refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, Larry James and Jereline Bethune were instrumental in using their restaurant to organize bus boycott efforts around the city. As the movement continued and literacy test laws (meant to curtail the Black vote) were introduced, Jereline would also quietly hold lessons teaching other African-Americans how to read. They were then able to pass these literacy tests and go out and vote.
Ice cream today would not be the same without the work of Alfred Cralle. Born just after the Civil War, he had an affinity for mechanics as a young age, and would go study at Wayland Seminary, a school set up after the Civil War to educate newly freed African-Americans.
Cralle would go on to work as a porter at a drugstore and a hotel in Philadelphia, and developed the idea of the ice cream scoop while watching people struggle using two different spoons to get the ice cream into cones. Cralle’s mechanical inventional, which is the basis of how ice cream scoops work to this day, was invented in 1897.
Cralle would also become a successful promoter of businesses in Philly, and was the assistant manager of the Afro-American Financial, Accumulating, Merchandise, and Business Association in Pittsburgh.
Ever heard the story of how potato chips were invented to spite a customer at a restaurant? George Crum was the chef at said restaurant, the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs. A customer came in around the summer of 1853 wanting extra-thin French Fries, frustrating Crum to the point he sliced them as thin as possible, fried them in grease, and sent them out.
The chips became a big hit, eventually becoming known as “Saratoga Chips.” While Crum never patented the dish, he did open his own restaurant, “Crumbs House,” that served a basket of them at every table.
Chips wouldn’t become a grocery product until 1895, and the concept of bagged chips didn’t show up until 1926.
Joseph Lee was one of the most influential people when it came to industrializing the way we make bread.
Having worked in a bakery from a young age, Lee eventually became the owner of two restaurants in Boston, as well as a hotel and a catering company. Looking to find a way to minimize bread waste, he eventually invented a machine that would convert day-old bread into breadcrumbs. Patented in 1895, he later sold the rights and the breadcrumb maker would spread across the world.
That wasn’t Lee’s only invention, however. He would later patent the idea for an automatic bread maker that mixed and kneaded the dough, the basis to the same devices (think, stand mixers) that we still use in our kitchens today.
Lloyd Hall is considered to be one of the pioneers in the world of food chemistry. A pharmaceutical chemist for Griffith Laboratories in Chicago who completed graduate school, Hall would be awarded over 100 patents and received multiple honorary doctorate degrees for his work.
Hall’s main area of work came around the development of techniques to preserve food. Some of his most revolutionary patents included using “flash-dried” salt crystals that revolutionized meatpacking. He also introduced the use of antioxidants to prevent the spoilage of fats and oils in baked goods, and developed a process known as “Ethylene Oxide Vacugas,” which could control the growth of bacteria and molds in food.
John Standard was an inventor instrumental in modernizing two pieces of kitchen equipment that virtually every household has today: stoves and refrigerators.
Refrigeration was a concept that was being researched as early as the 1830s, but mainly focused on using some sort of power. Standard’s improvement to the fridge, patented in 1891, was an unpowered design that used a manually filled ice chamber as the central cooling unit.
Standard also made significant upgrades to the oil-powered stove, patenting one with a space-saving design in 1889 that could be used in applications like buffet-style meals on trains.
If you’ve worked in the food industry or any commercial transportation that required keeping stuff cold, you’ve likely seen the Thermo King brand somewhere in your lifetime. Frederick McKinley Jones was the founder of that company, and inventor of the first automated refrigerated system for trucks.
A skilled and gifted electrician and mechanic, Jones had patents for sixty different inventions across a wide variety of fields, including the portable X-ray machine, motion picture devices, and even medical storage units.
He’s most known for the Thermo King, the refrigerated system he invented, because it allowed for fresh goods from around the world to be transported and sold in stores. Jones is essentially responsible for not just all refrigerated transport globally, but also the entire frozen food industry.
Known as the “Oyster King of New York,” Downing was most known for his 19th-century restaurant, Thomas Downing’s Oyster House. His oyster hall was legendary, with prominent figures like Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens having dined there.
Downing was born a free man, as his parents were freed by plantation owner John Downing. He grew up and was educated on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, and eventually made his way up to New York following the war of 1812. Like many other African-Americans in New York, Downing eventually went into the oyster business, opening his own oyster cellar in the 1820s.
Oyster cellars were the universal food of New York at the time (similar to hot dogs today), but many establishments weren’t as trusted as Downing’s. That’s because he specifically catering it towards the fine dining clientele, with a large dining area, carpet, and chandeliers gracing the hall. Elaborate dishes like oyster-stuffed turkeys and a pan roast made with wine and chili graced the menu.
This, at the time, meant that African-Americans couldn’t eat Downing’s restaurant, but few were aware of the double life he led. Downing’s basement was a key stop in the Underground Railroad, and as an abolitionist, he helped many that were escaping the South in search of freedom. He also led political efforts, funding schools for African-American children and leading the fight in desegregating New York’s trolley system.
Downing was so regarded in New York that when he passed away in 1866, the New York City Chamber of Commerce closed so that its members could attend his funeral.
The sugar industry in the United States has Norbert Rillieux to thank for allowing them to become so powerful. Were it not for his inventions, making sugar would still be a time-consuming and dangerous process.
Originally, the sugar refinement process, known as “The Jamaica Train,” was dangerous and expensive. Laborers (usually slaves) would transfer ladles of scalding hot sugar case juice between open boiling kettles, often resulting in scalding and terrible burns (anyone who’s worked with sugar knows how painful it can be). The result was a dark syrup that was molded into cones and dried before being sold.
From 1834-1843, Rillieux developed a system for refining and crystallizing sugar using a much safer and controlled method, allowing the United States to eventually dominate the sugar market. His process is still used today for freeze-drying food, pigments, and other food products.
Many people know George Washington Carver for the myriad of products he invented that utilized peanuts or sweet potatoes. As an agricultural scientist working in the South, he was also a man responsible for helping revitalize much of the economy in that region.
Working out of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Carver was a teacher and a researcher from the late 1890s until his passing in 1943. An early pioneer of crop rotation, he encouraged farmers to plant peanuts in the soil after harvest to replenish lost nutrients, helping farmers improve not just their livelihoods, but their diets as well.
Carver’s research and work focused on revitalizing soil and maximizing plant production while keeping costs to a minimum. Outside of agriculture, he was a massive promoter of racial equality, and massive advocate of peanut oil as a potential treatment for polio. While never proven, the claim was widely circulated in media, and eventually turned into a “Peanuts for Polio” fundraising effort that helped raise money for medical care and benefits for children affected with the disease.
Following Carver’s passing, then-Senator Harry S. Truman sponsored legislation that would lead to the construction of the George Washington Carver National Monument. It was the first-ever national memorial to an African-American.
Illustrations in this piece provided by Sam Brosnan.
The smartphone app eatOkra has seen a recent jump on the Apple App Store and for great reason — it does an incredible job of helping our community find Black-Owned restaurants in our immediate vicinity.
The app, a brainchild of New York couple Anthony and Janique Edwards, has been around since 2016. In the wake of ongoing protests around the country following the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd and countless other Black Americans, the app has gotten as high as #20 on the food/drink category.
At the time of publication, they currently sit at #25, an impressive number amidst a list of food delivery and resource apps like DoorDash, Starbucks and McDonald’s.
EatOkra is described as a “guide to finding black-owned restaurants and food trucks.” The app boasts listings in NYC, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, St. Louis, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, DC, Atlanta, Houston & Dallas, Portland and Detroit, to name a few!
With the influx of new users, the app’s creators have been working tirelessly to add new features like filtering restaurants by proximity, bookmarking and easy navigation features. No smoke, these guys are adding features to their platform that took Yelp ages to get right. And without the strong arming.
Pop culture has always envisioned what our future may look like. Sometimes we’re wowed by concepts like instant microwavable meals. Other times, scary possibilities are delivered with a comedic tinge, like soda replacing water. Mostly, entertainment touts the inevitable demise of human civilization at the hands of our superior robotic counterparts. There always seems to be something irreconcilable about the nature of humankind that robots or A.I., find too flawed to compute. While many futurist theories have remained theories due to lack of capable technology, recent years have seen the gap between entertainment and real life begin to close.
No country is ahead of the futurist curve more than Japan. From building real life mechs to heated toilet seats, Japan always has its finger on the pulse of possibilities. One Japanese company, OryLab Inc., has a more optimistic approach to robotic application.
One of their experiments involved an interactive pop-up shop named Robot Cafe Dawn Version Beta 2.0. Guests were invited to a cafe which featured a remotely-operated robotic waitstaff. The experience offered a peek into the potential future where robotics and smart technology intersect, introducing new possibilities for people with disabilities. Basically, OryLab Inc. took the Avatar concept and brought it to life, albeit in a much simpler, less colorful way.
Robot Cafe Dawn Version Beta 2.0’s robotic waitstaff were piloted by ALS and SMA patients who are unable to leave their bed. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a disease that causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles and SMA (superior mesenteric artery syndrome) is a rare digestive system disorder. Creator Kentaro “Ory” Yoshifuji envisioned a future where bedridden patients, typically unable to participate in normal societal activities or occupations, could put their skills to use.
Within the cafe, guests can order from small OriHime robots placed on each table, each remotely operated by patients known as pilots. Beverages are then ushered to the table by larger robots equipped with arms known as OriHime D. These are also remotely piloted and guests can converse with the pilot by talking to the robot. The pop-up was a test to learn what shortcomings the technology currently has.
With all the talk of robots replacing us, this application of robotic technology has the potential to benefit many people facing physical disabilities that have long been unable to contribute their skills to society. OryLab Inc. CEO Kentaro Yoshifuji’s mission is to “let anyone, even a person with a disability, go anywhere in the world,” and was inspired by the CEO’s desire to help a personal friend with ALS. Their aim is to launch a permanent Avatar cafe later this year.
Who knows if this will catch on within the restaurant world? Either way, it does point to a more promising future where humans and robots can collaborate to improve lives.