Panera is Now Selling a Cup That Also Charges Your Phone

Is the Summer Slump for real? According to some folks, it is, as it describes the season where over 25% of workers feel a decline in productivity. Panera recognizes this and is helping folks get charged up by debuting a new cup that also doubles as a phone charger.

Panera has just unveiled the Charged Up Cup, which serves up their new Charged Lemonades and also is a portable phone charger.

Since it’s always annoying to be without some juice for your phone when it’s running low, you can get one for free by heading to and have it delivered on the Summer Solstice next week, which happens to be the longest day of the year.

Fast Food News Technology

Taco Bell’s ‘Defy’ Concept Set To Open Tomorrow, Promises To Be Most Innovative Drive-Thru Experience

Last summer we reported on the futuristic Taco Bell Defy drive-thru concept that is looking to shake up the fast food industry and how folks dine on the go.

Fast forward almost a year later and Taco Bell Defy is set to open tomorrow, June 7, in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. The revolutionary restaurant concept is the first of its kind, delivering high-tech features that look to improve Taco Bell fans’ drive-thru experience by boosting efficiency through innovation.

Features like a proprietary vertical lift that will transport Taco Bell menu items straight from the kitchen to waiting customers, digital check-in screens for mobile order customers’ unique QR codes, a two-way audio and video technology service for customers to talk to team members on the second floor and a four-lane drive-thru are what Taco Bell Defy is bringing to the table.

Each drive-thru is designated for specific roles:

  • Pre-orders: Fans who order via the Taco Bell app will score skip-the-line service. For ultimate ease and convenience, the Taco Bell App can be downloaded ahead of time by visiting the Apple App Store or Google Play.
  • Delivery Drivers: For those ordering through a third-party delivery partner, drivers will be able to process orders with the goal of providing an even faster delivery time in getting tacos straight to fans. 
  • Traditional Drive-Thru: For those who prefer to drop in for their favorite menu items, there’s one lane dedicated solely for this purpose.

For all this to come to fruition, Taco Bell tapped in with Minneapolis-based Vertical Works Inc., who merged innovation, design and manufacturing to help the fast food chain flip the normal drive-thru experience.

News Restaurants Technology What's New

Snoop Dogg Joins World’s First NFT Restaurant Group, Food Fighters Universe

Snoop Dogg does everything now. Literally everything. Seeing him get invested in the NFT and Web3 industry shouldn’t be a surprise at this point right? The rapper turned entrepreneur has got his hands into everything at the highest level and joining Andy Nguyen, Kevin Seo and Phillip Huynh – the team behind Bored & Hungry, the world’s first NFT-themed restaurant, and Food Fighters Universe – was a no brainer.

Snoop Dogg’s Dr. Bombay’s Sweet Exploration, an immersive retail dessert experience based on his Bored Ape NFT and Dr. Bombay character, will open in Los Angeles under the Food Fighters Universe (FFU) umbrella, making it the first concept to be announced by Food Fighters Universe. More details are still to come soon regarding the specifics of the opening and actual concept.

The Food Fighters NFT collection will mint in June, with 10,000 unique NFT tokens on the ETH (Ethereum) blockchain. NFT sales will go to the development of new restaurants (in the real world) much like Bored & Hungry did.

The benefits of getting a Food Fighters NFT range from tickets to the Food Fighters Festival (IRL), line hopper passes for the aforementioned festival and hidden restaurants just for NFT holders known as Easter Eggs to name a few.

Rapper Bun B, and former NBA star and now entrepreneur Baron Davis are also partners in FFU in addition to Snoop Dogg.

Additionally, one percent of FFU revenue will be donated to Action Against Hunger and Abound Food Care to help fight world hunger.

Fast Food News Technology What's New

Panda Express Unveils Robotic Wok

Technology has been incorporated in just about every aspect of our lives. Shoes that tie themselves, glasses that are wearable computers and they have even invaded our culinary world as robotic bar tenders will now craft your cocktails for you our in Las Vegas.

Taking us one step further into the future, Panda Express has unveiled their latest kitchen innovation: The Panda Auto Wok AKA the PAW.

With the PAW, Panda Express aims to improve the guest experience as well as maintain chef retention.

So what does the PAW do?! It emphasizes three things: mixing methods, streamlined cooking process and operation efficiency. Mixing menu items evenly and quickly is one of the immediate and obvious improvements that PAW will make. The days of getting fried rice with 55 peas and 6 carrots now look to be a thing of the past!

It will additionally reduce cooking time by 25% ensuring the guest will get their food quicker and will support a better chef retention rate as one of the more demanding tasks is now alleviated. Motion based injuries will be reduced as a result of the PAW which is great news for hardworking Panda Express chefs.

Will robots completely replace our chefs and cooks? Not likely. Having robots in the kitchen to help with productivity however is definitely a positive lens to look through as technology gets deeper into our kitchens.

White Castle employing fry-making robots earlier this year was just the tip of the iceberg in restaurant innovation, and Panda Express is looking to capitalize on the movement.

Brand Technology

Fatburger Offers Fans an Opportunity to Own a Piece of Their Blockchain

Photo: Fatburger

National Hamburger Day was a few days ago and in celebration of one of humankind’s best inventions, Fatburger is giving fans an opportunity to own a piece of their blockchain.

With the growing popularity of NFTs, it’s only a matter of time before big name brands enter the space to offer their own artistic offering. And as early adopters clamor for a digital land grab in this wild wild west stage, it’s good to have entry-point opportunities like these.

Photo: Fatburger

Fatburger fans will have 500 chances to own a limited edition non-fungible token. The idea was brought to life through a collaboration with Supper Club, a Web3 eating community that supports restaurants. Each of the limited-edition 500 NFTs will be minted, unlock access to a free made-to-order Fatburger and are available to fans on a first come, first serve basis. 

Lucky fans who acquire one of the Fatburger NFTs will be able to access it through their Solana blockchain wallet. They’ll also be able to redeem a coupon for a free Original Fatburger online during the month of June. Coupons are only redeemable once per NFT holder.

Science Technology

NASA-Funded Breakthrough Grows Plants Using Soil from the Moon

Photo: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones

When most people think NASA, space shuttles come to mind. But, besides launching space shuttles and floating around the International Space Station, NASA’s geniuses work on a wide range of interesting things that benefit humankind. 

Back in the day during the Apollo missions, astronauts collected lunar soil and brought it to back to Earth for examination, where the samples were archived for future research. Fast forward 50 years later to now, and scientists from the University of Florida have successfully grown plants using three of those original lunar soil samples.

The achievement happens to align with the NASA-led Artemis program, which is an international collaboration with the primary goal of returning humans to the Moon by 2025. 

Photo: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones

“This research is critical to NASA’s long-term human exploration goals as we’ll need to use resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This fundamental plant growth research is also a key example of how NASA is working to unlock agricultural innovations that could help us understand how plants might overcome stressful conditions in food-scarce areas here on Earth.”

The lunar plant babies in question are called Arabidopsis thaliana, a Eurasian and African relative of mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The plant is used often in plant biology studies because it’s relatively small and easy to grow.

The team used samples collected on the Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions with only a gram of regolith for each plant. A little water, seeds and nutrients produced sprouts from each sample in two days. 

Photo: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones

While they successfully grew plants using lunar regolith, the plants themselves weren’t as robust as Earth soil produce. Nevertheless, this is a significant step towards growing nutrient-rich produce on the Moon for extended lunar visits and addressing the increasing food scarcity on Earth due to climate change. In other words, some day you may be eating veggies grown on the moon. 

“Not only is it pleasing for us to have plants around us, especially as we venture to new destinations in space, but they could provide supplemental nutrition to our diets and enable future human exploration,” said Sharmila Bhattacharya, program scientist with NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences (BPS) Division. “Plants are what enable us to be explorers.”

For more information on this significant breakthrough, visit NASA’s website.

Restaurants Technology What's New

Step Inside LA’s Most Technologically Advanced Dining and Entertainment Establishment

An elevated supper club dinner concept from Miami, MainRo, has just arrived in Los Angeles in the old Beso space. MainRo has big intentions to fill its 7,500 square foot space with a combination of cocktails, dining and theater all in one.

MainRo is definitely lookin’ bougie in the best way with the level of elegance its interior has in combination with state of the art, high tech entertainment. Think massive chandeliers that have 4K mapped screens that move independently, velvet blue booths and electronic dining tables that have its themes modified by touch.

The walls are even covered in reflective art paneling and the stairs by the DJ booth have 4K screens that illuminate when walked on. Knowing that, there is no way in hell you’re stopping me from reenacting the entire Billie Jean music video while going up and down those steps.

The cuisine at MainRo has a similar mindset with the decor in terms of elegance and attention to detail. Their food is locally sourced and will offer a bevy of starters, caviar, platters, soups, sushi, entrees, prime steaks, Japanese Wagyu and vegetarian dishes to create an array of options for every lifestyle and palate.

Decadence is put at a premium on the menu, with diners offered truffle Wagyu bites, Colorado rack of lamb, hot stone Wagyu beef, 36 oz. bone-in tomahawk steak served with homemade sauces or pan-seared Chilean sea bass with caramelized miso sauce.

“We are creating a modern and technological version of the Moulin Rouge, but the difference here at MainRo is you are the star and the show is happening in front, behind and may even be on top of you” says Romain Zago, founder of MainRo.

MainRo is located at 6350 Hollywood Blvd, and is open Thursday through Saturday from 6:30PM to 2:00AM.

Fast Food Technology What's New

Jimmy John’s Will Launch a ‘Metasandwich’ That Can Be Ordered IRL

Jimmy John’s and Decentraland (a decentralized virtual world) have joined forces to create the ultimate Metaverse food: The Metasandwich.

Through May 20th you can create your own Jimmy John’s Metasandwich and if you live in Chicago or Nashville, you get the chance to try this creation. Seems like a great way to take advantage of the Metaverse and have it work in your favor right? Create food online and eat it in real life. GENIUS.

After users enter the virtual Jimmy John’s and create their own masterpiece, they’ll be able to submit their creations for the chance to be named Jimmy John’s first official Metasandwich.

From May 24th to May 26th users will be able to vote for which sandwich gets made into a reality. Then you’ll be able to try the winning sandwich from Tuesday May 31st until Friday June 3rd at select Nashville and Chicago Jimmy John’s locations.

This isn’t the first digital food concept that became a reality. In Long Beach, California, the world’s first NFT restaurant called Bored and Hungry, recently opened for a limited time. If larger companies join in on this business model, it could very well take it out of the realm of being a trend.