French Fry Vending Machine….That is All

While there is some debate if we have the Belgians or the French to thank for the french fry, it’s an argument that’s now entirely irrelevant as the Belgians have recently perfected the food by creating a french fry vending machine.

Now unlike those crappy hot fries Andy Capp has been trying to pawn off on you for years, these vending machine fries are the real deal, as for about $3.40 you get a cup of crispy fries just like momma used to buy them from your favorite fast food joint, and even a complimentary squirt of mayonnaise or ketchup.

You may have some, very valid, questions concerning the quality of vending machine french fries, and some equally worrisome queries regarding how well vending machine condiments hold up, but frankly not wanting a cup of french fries and dipping sauce for under 4 bucks in about a minute and a half is simply un-American.

Of course for the moment this machine of wonder and fried joy is only available in Belgium, but if you think there is a chance a machine that dispenses cheap bad decisions for your supposed nourishment won’t be coming stateside, you simply haven’t been paying attention the last half century or so.

Make a Perfect Fully Loaded Hamburger Just in Time for Summer

Long before the Vikings cleaned house during the draft, residents of Minnesota have had a reason to feel blessed, and it has nothing to do with the natural beauty of the twin cities, but rather comes from the divey interiors of institutions like Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 club.

It’s called a juicy lucy, and it’s a hamburger stuffed with cheese.

Now you’d think that something so incredible would be available at every restaurant on the globe in an effort to kickstart world peace, but the truth is that a professionally made juicy lucy isn’t easy to find outside of Minnesota, and making one yourself is sooner to result in a mangled hamburger with the barest specs of cheese mocking you for your efforts.

That’s all changed now thanks to the stuff-a-burger. It’s a meat press that allows you to form the perfect ¾ or ½ pound burgers, with the right amount of room in the middle for a filling. Requiring considerably less effort than the hand-made method, the real draw to the stuff-a-burger is that it can form the perfect stuffed hamburger every time, and allow you to load it with such things as cheese, bacon, onions, or really anything you can think of within the reasons of your imagination, and concerned pleas of your cardiac physician.

Just in time for the summer, though just missing my man’s kitchen mock up, and clocking in at just $11.95, I advise any grill master to ignore the “as seen on TV name,” and turn your next burger party into an occasion that will drop everyone at the table’s jaws just enough to fit one of the monstrous wonders this device is capable of  in.

And the Dumbest Gadget at CES 2013 Is…

Trying to nitpick, analyze, highlight, and discuss the Consumer Electronics Show with any kind of totality is a maddening proposition, unless you’re willing to devote a significant amount of research time and several posts to doing so. I considered doing just that briefly, before I decided to step back and remember that the CES is really supposed to be fun. And while part of that fun is seeing what we’ll be able to buy in the coming year (and what we’ll never, ever afford), another, more entertaining, part is mocking the most absurd inventions that had no business on the show floor in the first place.

It’s those that I wanted to focus on, and specifically I wanted to find the most ridiculous of them all. For a moment, I thought it would be the iPad training toilet (not only because it teaches kids they don’t need to stop using their gadgets, even while on the toilet, but makes me realize there are kids who can’t even stop pooping their pants that somehow have iPad access and knowledge), or the Motorhead sponsored headphones designed to more or less be dangerously, annoyingly loud.

In the end though, there was only one clear winner.

A fork? Yeah, but of course it’s a smart fork. How can a fork be smart? When it’s designed for stupid people of course.

In this case, the Hapifork (as its known) measures your eating habits (particularly how fast you are eating) and through an app (of course it has an app) allows you to monitor statistics like how long your meal was, how many fork servings you had per minute, and the time between bites. The data is then analyzed to help you find ways to become a healthier eater. It can also provide visual cues while eating to let you know when things are getting out of hand.

Now, I am aware that obesity and over eating are huge problems, particularly in America. However so is stupidity, and it’s frightening to believe there are people speaking of this fork like it is somehow a good idea, or noble weapon on the war against not eating so damn much. It’s neither. It’s a device that attempts to eliminate common sense and reduce personal responsibility in a field (dieting) that requires a great deal of both to be successful.

So instead of considering spending the $99 on the Hapifork when it is released (or put on Kickstarter), allow me to present an alternative. Hire me. Seriously, if you must have an eating tattler, rent me for $5 during your meal, and when I see you attacking a plate of pasta like it violated a peace treaty I’ll say “Dude”. You’ll say “Oh, right” ,slow down, and hopefully, neither you, me, or any of us will have to hear about this smart fork again.

Are Interactive Restaurant Tables the Wave of the Future?

I’m constantly torn between my love of technology, and of the more classic ideas. I couldn’t live without my Galaxy SIII, but refuse to use an e-reader over print books, for instance. I’m particularly adamant about limiting technology when it comes to the kitchen, restaurants, and food in general, where I just think that containing the number of technological advances produces a better atmosphere.

But even I’m finding it hard to not love the e-table designs currently employed in a few restaurants across the world. The most interesting of which belongs to an Asian-Fusion restaurant in the SoHo district of London called Inamo. It looks like a touch screen table, but actually works off of an interactive projection concept that would allow for diners to, among other things, view menus, access a live camera in the kitchen (a somewhat pervy extension of the open kitchen philosophy), play games, change the digital tablecloth, and even project an image of the food onto their plates.

A similar idea from designer Clint Rule places a greater emphasis on social features that would aim to turn the café environment to a much more integrated place with options like voting on music, or sharing what you are reading with others around you and elsewhere.

Neither of these are entirely unique, as this idea has been a popular science fiction mainstay for decades and restaurants here and there for years have employed similar designs. But I believe that one of, or more realistically a combination of, these two ideas represent a real trend that could be seen soon in many more restaurants. Worldwide, eating out is becoming more of a cultural phenomenon than it has ever been as chefs become rockstars, and dishes become worthy of pilgrimage. In that growing environment a certain amount of technological expansion is almost inevitable just as it has been everywhere else. As long as the food remains the draw though, and waiters and waitresses keep their jobs, I see no harm in exploring the benefits and uses of this idea, if for no other reason than it looks pretty damn cool.

Grubhub Wants You to Know Exactly Where Your Delivery is

You may have not known this, but like millions of Americans, I suffer from pre-mature delivery anticipation.

It’s a horrible condition where you wait and wait for a food delivery until you are absolutely sure that something has gone wrong, and decide to call up the restaurant only to hear the doorbell ring  during the call and realize that your food has arrived. It strikes with such consistency that it can make the uninformed believe the order was magically withheld until a call was placed, and always leads to flushed faces and ashamed mumbles when you utter apologies to the disgruntled employee on the other end of the line.

In the spirit of continuing to improve the delivery experience and bringing it into the new world, delivery site grubhub.com is launching a new feature that will allow customers in six cities to receive an alert when their pick up order is ready, or when their delivery has left the restaurant in order to more accurately communicate estimates beyond vague delivery times in 15 minutes increments. Even better, is the expansion of that service which is being offered to New York and Chicago based users that will allow them to actively track their en route delivery with a GPS feature available via the Grubhub app.

It’s called track your grub, and it’s all part of a recent larger effort by Grubhub to expand their growing company and provide a fresh range of services to both restaurants and customers. Although no official plans have been announced for expansion past the initial regions, it’s hard to imagine that more areas wouldn’t want this service available if possible, especially as an industry that promotes laziness, and just a little bit of gluttony, seemingly has nowhere to go but up at this point in American history.

Although, it is a shame to think that one of the last bastions of laziness during work, the delivery guy, may soon be facing an age where their actions are no longer anonymous and they may actually be forced to do their jobs with efficiency.

Then again, if it means I won’t ever have to call a restaurant an hour into an estimated 45 minute filled with misguided anger when a delivery guy knocks at the door simultaneously, perhaps it’s one of those “noble” sacrifices.

It May Look like Midday, but he’s Really Riding Into the Sunset