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Opinion Packaged Food Tastemade/Snapchat

A Fond Look Back At Lunchables, A Childhood Obsession

Lunchables — the American Bento box

#Lunch be so bad at #work, I bought a #lunchable

A photo posted by @lisha_candace85 on

Every culture has its version of the boxed lunch, the thing millions of school children are sent off with every day, 180 days out of the year.   In Japan it’s a bento box made of rice, meat and veggies.  In America it is the Lunchable, a deconstructed sandwich in a perfectly packaged plastic container. It’s fun for kids and easy for adults. Everyone wins when you don’t have to think about what to make for lunch every day, day after day.

 

If you share a slice of cheese….

Think about it, what makes a Lunchable special?  It’s literally just ham, cheese and Ritz crackers in a box.  

However, back in the early ‘90s, it was also a status symbol.   My family wasn’t poor, but my mom definitely didn’t believe in name brand anything. As an adult I respect that she took the time to make me a sandwich every day, but as a kid, the Lunchables just seemed, cooler, and I wanted one.

My school lunches were turkey sandwiches wrapped in a plastic grocery bag, but Lunchables were food toys you could eat.  Therefore, I was always begging some friend for some ham; it always looked and tasted better in a thickly sliced circle and the cheese, which was savory to the max, when you had to ration one piece.  

And I’d never just sit down and eat a Ritz cracker by itself, but with that ham and cheese, it just seemed to have a completely different personality, not dry, like its usual lonesome form.  

Likewise, there was always dessert, a little Twix or Crunch Bar, or even a decadent Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  Cool looking and convenient, I always approached it with the care I assumed an astronaut lifted his dessert from whatever floating space tray he ate from.

 

Kids these Days

The website for Lunchables has a tab for both kids and parents.  If you click the kids tab, it takes you immediately to a commercial about Lunchables where a satyr eats a playing card.  “Mix your food up,” is the new theme.

I also clicked on the “parents” tab, which I’ll just interpret to mean all adults.  The site is way less fun, but I did learn about all the new Lunchable options.  For example you can get your Lunchable with or without a drink, you can even “upload” to a deep dish pizza, or a turkey sub.  Wow! They’ve come a long way from a few slices of cheese, ham and crackers.  

Having recently worked at an elementary school, I hadn’t seen a fruit rollup or a pack of Gushers in years. But once a week some kid will come to school with a Lunchable and with a hint of shame, I would ask them for a slice of cheese. Here I go again. Mooching off some kid.  What am I doing!? I can buy my own Lunchables, or even better, create my own DIY Lunchable with gouda, pretzel chips and smoked Boar’s head ham, because I am an adult now and I deserve the best versions of my childhood.

Categories
Technology

A Look At The Sushi Robot Industry That’s Growing In Japan

Sushi-Toppings-Cover

Every sushi lover has that one spot they love to indulge themselves in every so often. Sure, it may not be a world-class restaurant or a questionable all-you-can-eat buffet, but it’s usually a place that’s a perfect harmony of both.

For perspective, my local sushi watering hole has a four-page menu of colorful sushi rolls that you can order individually, or pay up to thirty bucks for the all you can eat option. The choices for rolls seemed endless thanks to the chef’s creativity in building a menu and his constant desire to create something new. Sure, he’ll take his sweet time and I’ll probably be full by the time he’s brought out the fifth batch of rolls, but the quality and care is definitely noticeable.

Now, what if that kindly old chef was replaced with a sushi-making machine?

That’s kind of what this new Sushi Robot is doing:

Created by the Japanese firm Suzumo, the latest Sushi Robot can create about 4,000 pieces of sushi every hour or one complete roll of sushi every 12 seconds. All they need is the tiniest of human assistance to feed them the ingredients.

So far, the machines are marketed to high-volume supermarkets, all-you-can-eat buffets, schools, sporting venues and hospitals. Typically anywhere that needs a large amount of sushi in a short amount of time.

Still, with the massive amounts of sushi a robot is capable of producing, there still remains a need for real chefs. There’s something special about eating a roll prepared and cut by a professionally-trained sushi chef than a mound of rolls cranked out by a machine.

The purpose of the machines is to create a massive amount of sushi in bulk for a cheaper price. So when you’re feeding it ingredients, you tend to use cuts of fish that probably won’t cost as much as a traditional sushi spot. You’ll see thinner slivers of sashimi rather than a thicker cut on top of your rolls.

I spoke to Kaiser Noriesta, a sushi chef of five years, on whether or not machines like the Sushi Bot would ever replace a traditional sushiman.

I don’t think it will. I’ve seen those machines. I can see super cheap sushi places that’ll have those machines. They have some perks like being fast and sanitary but it’ll only help pop up more gimmicky restaurants or sushi restaurants that sell for super cheap.

When it comes to the art of sushi, you still need experience on how soft the rice is or the feel and temperature. You also need to know the quality of the fish you’re using and the feel of the flesh etc. But yeah more power to them if they create affordable sushi that reaches out to a wider audience

As dope as a machine that pumps rolls after roll in a matter of seconds sounds, it still can’t replace the love and care that a sushi chef provides. Humans with the proper training can improvise and adapt to any sushi-making situation that machines can’t quite handle yet.

If a machine were to cater to a picky customer’s specific requests, it would have to shut down production, be reprogramed for that one customer and then reset itself.

Kind of defeats the purpose of mass production.