The Future According to the Digital Prophet of Recipes.com.
BY JEFF JOHNSON
It’s awesome to see so many faces here today!
Let’s just dive right in. Food and the devices we use to prepare food both want to be free. Even though it can not speak, that mixer your grandma once owned has hundreds of stories it’s just dying to tell. I see cooking as sort of the meta-narrative of the amalgamation of all of our cultures—the intersection of the sweet and the sour—and technology will only keep amplifying this. Let me give you some examples:
Imagine you’re out at sea. You’re making a cake and getting really frustrated and literally throw all your measuring cups overboard. In the not-too-distant future, these measuring cups, individually, will possess the ability not only to make it to shore, but they can also find their way back to your house. They can be programmed to pay for and ride public transportation. They can communicate with your dishwasher and say, “Look, don’t worry about the corrosive saltwater, friend, you have to clean us up.”
Speaking of which, no more peeking inside that dishwasher door, hoping to find clean utensils. Your silverware will be able to talk to your dishwasher, even scold it, if it needs to, saying, “Do I look clean yet? No. So keep going, shithead.” Who wouldn’t want that? It’s coming.
And don’t feel sorry for that dishwasher. It’s also able to communicate with more successful dishwashers, either in your zip code or halfway around the world. If forks are getting cleaner in Glasgow, it can learn from a dishwasher there. And your dishwasher can learn other skills, too. What if I told you in just six weeks, it could become an effective mass dumpling steamer with over 127,000 followers on Twitter? What if it also had wheels and navigation and left your house on its own, to serve as a hamster wash at a local pet store? That’s what November of 2018 looks like, folks.
Now let’s go back to those measuring cups. As they’re floating and floating—heaven forbid, one of them gets swallowed by a shark. Now it will photograph itself inside of the shark and send you those images, so even if your cake turns out horribly, you’re able to distract people by asking them if they want to see photographs a measuring cup took while passing thru a shark’s cloaca.
Then you can say, “Look, it actually made it home. Fill it with flour and let’s make a Bundt cake.”
What about a food truck where you can also get an angioplasty or a stand-up MRI?
Here’s another thought: By 2017, you’ll be wearing a watch that has the ability to 3-D print all the vegan mayo you can handle. So if you’re eating a sub and run low, your watch can take care of that for you. Or if you meet an attractive girl who needs mayo—this is the perfect ice-breaker. “Here, let me take care of that for you, beautiful.” Then you take your watch off and put it on a flat surface and in 43 minutes, you’ll have 2.5 oz of vegan mayo… and her phone number.
What if I told you that wasabi could be prepared with tens of thousands of tiny, edible microsensors? And as people try to pinch it, their fingertips reveal their ID to the wasabi, so the wasabi can say, “This is too big of a portion for you, Mr. Lueppke. Ease up, dude.” Before he ever inflames his whole sinus cavity.
Stories are not only currency for millennials, but for one other group, too. One whose memories might be fuzzier. Anyone have a guess? That’s right: alcoholics. They’re always telling stories. So, what if you had coasters in your home where any time someone set an alcoholic beverage down on them, that coaster would play back audio from the last time it had booze on it, like who had said what and whose feelings had been injured and who could simply no longer go on with any of it anymore? Would you be less likely to get wasted? Would the data on those coasters be valuable to an employee or future spouse?
What if I told you that in the future you’d be cutting some radishes and your knife would slip and cut your finger and then it would apologize to you? Knives will be able to say sorry in up to five languages.
What about a cheese grater that’s able to make music depending on the rhythm of you stroking a block of cheese against it? What if it were also making MP3s of its music and sending them, unbeknownst to you, to Daft Punk’s manager? What if it then got a record deal, or simply had some of its cheese rhythms incorporated into a Daft Punk song, or what if Daft Punk said, “This is cool, but not quite right for us,” and they passed it along to ZZ Top and one of those guys used it as a personal ring tone? Would you be entitled to any money? The technology here is way ahead of the legal. Should you care about the ramifications? You were the cheese stroker after all. Spotify might owe you 91 cents.
What if your microwave could contact your personal trainer? So you nuke a burrito at 3:47 AM, and it sends a distress signal. What if your microwave could post information to your Facebook wall whenever it wanted to? What if your microwave wanted to be called Steven? What if it wanted to keep in touch with transistors at the factory from which it came? Do you have it in you to be a good custodian for it? What if your microwave could call 911 anytime you made something unhealthy? Is that a provocation that trains you to eat healthier as nine firemen stand around angrily due to the false alarm while you, in your underwear and old racquetball tournament shirt, tell your best story?
Let’s break for a snack, okay? Ten minutes. As you unwrap your muffins, hold on to the wrapper; I have a really cool surprise for you. See you in a few.
SUGGESTED READSThis Week’s School Lunches
by Peter Bebergal (2/28/2000)
Come Join Our Prayer Group-Slash-Cheese Tasting-Slash-Orgy
by Jon Methven (9/22/2010)
Alternate Names for Ruth’s Chris Steak House
by Colleen Werthmann (3/22/2000)
RECENTLYSo You Want to Get Into an MFA Program: A Decision Tree
by Rebekah Frumkin (9/16/2014)
A McSweeney’s Books
by Courtney Moreno (9/16/2014)
Monologue: Alexander Graham Bell Has Had Just About Enough of Your Shit
by Charlie Stockman (9/16/2014)
POPULARClassic Movies Changed to Not Be Sexist
by Blythe Roberson (8/14/2014)
Hello Stranger On the Street, Could You Please Tell Me How to Take Care of My Baby?
by Wendy Molyneux (8/16/2012)
Best Joke Ever: Mitch Hedberg: Hippie Martian Zen Genius
by Mark Peters (8/28/2014)