A newsletter on upcoming food and beverage trends that offers a curation of brands and aesthetics written by Andrea Hernández.
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Shapeshifters is brought to you by the following —the letter S, the number 35, Snaxshot Broadcasting Service and viewers like you. Greetings once again and welcome to this semi orderly aggregation of whimsical cogitations. This week, let’s talk about how food and beverage are being presented in different formats, whether it’s convenience, sustainability, a new application, quality, or all of the above, one can’t deny there’s shapeshifting happening all around.
This isn’t novel per say, think late 1800s, to feminist literature, American suffragette Mary Elizabeth Lease predicted that 100 years into the future (so like 1993) synthetic food would free women from the kitchen (Lunchables were created in 1989, so IMO she was spot on) —around the same time this satire by social conservative Anna Dodd, titled, The Republic of the Future (1887) was published, in it she mocked the idea of women no longer spending time preparing meals, it is set in New York in the year 2050, a passage from the book reads “When the last pie was made into the first pellet, women’s true freedom began.” Jokes on her because most women in NYC use their oven as storage anyways, juuuust kidding?
The idea of meals and beverage taking more compact forms also stems from scarcity, think 1930s depression and post war era, fears that as population grows food would become less abundant was met with techno optimism —if man can use technology to destroy, it can also be used to create. An example of this could be seen at the 1933 Chicago World Fair, “Century of Progress” the motto being "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Adapts" —the idea being that food should act as sustenance only, more of a utilitarian take, versus a way of entertainment. By the 1960s, this more dystopian view was set aside and as Space Age boomed, so did the idea of us having extravagant, á la Jetson meals, in the same compact manner.
Here’s a fun fact —Pillsbury was actually commissioned to create a snack that could be taken to space, enter the Space Food Sticks which seems to be sort of an iteration of the modern snack bar. “The snack had to be small enough to go through a small airtight opening in the helmet -so the rod-shaped food sticks were born” —this same period of time gave rise to powder drinks aimed towards children, Tang for example, a dry drink that can be rehydrated?! But did you know this is also the reason why people dunk baked goods into coffee?
Let’s rewind, this behavior stems from Romans wanting to preserve food, so they would cook the bread twice, this is also where the word biscotti comes from, the latin biscotus, twice baked. In order to be able to eat it without breaking all your teeth, they would dip it in wine to rehydrate the bread (this was before coffee or tea were available in Europe) which is interesting behavior considering that the sacrament in Catholic Church involves a wafer dipped in wine?! THINK ABOUT THAT! Anyways, around the mid-century, the British used the same technique to preserve food while on long voyages, just that they used beer instead of wine, and so fast forward to our times, we literally have Dunkin Donuts.
Back to the 60s, air travel was also quite popular, the rise of microwavable TV dinners that inspired airplane meals and so for, less of a dystopian version of us being disconnected from food source, but also still with the fear lingering on whether or not we can continue to sustain a growing population, we embraced the shapeshifter movement. Not only that but we have strived to bring forth this prophetic vision, back in 2010, Time magazine labeled the concept of “meal in a pill” as a failed food prediction, but I can confidently say, a decade later, we may be closer to achieving this than we thought, we now have entire meals in tiny squares and wearable vitamins, who’s laughing now science!?!!!!!! Let’s dive into some great examples now, with the help of some tiny friends you might have seen around now, trust me don’t get too cozy with them because they can be a bunch of assholes when they want to, be forewarned.
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Cometeer: Frozen tablets of coffee that dissolve into water to give you a fresh cup of coffee in the morning, the technique they use helps preserve quality the best, not to mention its a more sustainable approach than pods. The company recently announced raising $35 M to expand their mission, I’ve personally tasted it and it’s mind blowing how good it actually tastes? I’ve tried both with warm water and making it as iced coffee.
Tea Drops: This company was established back in 2015, female founded and has amassed incredible success, the concept is simple, bagless tea that dissolves into your drink, recently raised $5 M in series A. Personally have also tasted this and was pleasantly surprised to find it did not comprise taste, though it did take a bit to dissolve if the water isn’t seeping hot.
waterdrop: Born out of Vienna, waterdrop has similar concept, they call themselves a “micro drink” or drinkable water tablets (I call it Alka-Seltzerization of drinks lol) they’ve garnered enough success to quickly expand to UK and most recently entering the US market. Also relying heavily on sustainability messaging.
Livin Kombucha: This is where I’m drawing the line lol, add powdered kombucha to the list of “Why is this needed?” but wanted to include here because this concept though not novel, seems like they may be the first to give it pretty packaging spin.
Plink: This company is yet to launch but included here because they are also working on a “micro drink” concept, aka drinks in a tablet, also pushing for this format as a “more sustainable RTD” —set to launch in 2022.
Pzaz: The company hasn’t officially launched but it’s already garnered a cultish following amongst bodega owners and GenZ alike in NYC. The idea is to disrupt the energy drink market, specifically the 5-hour energy drink space, in fact they are always taunting them on their socials, it’s hilarious. I’ve also tried this product and the taste is reminiscent of “War Head” candy spray, remember? My favorite flavor is the Green Apple.
Daily Harvest: This is one of my favorite concepts as I’ve been trying to get “milk bombs” to be a thing, particularly as the holidays come up. Daily Harvest’s almond mylk tablets are genius, not only for convenience but also because it is also more sustainable a milk carton.
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Simulate: They’ve touted themselves as the Tesla of food, their alt-chicken discs literally play on software which is very tongue in cheek considering thats literally how this industry works, producing “updates” to their versions every year or so now.
Slow Up: This is a similar concept of an entire meal into a convenient, or a grain bowl into a snack bar!
Undressed: Fascinating concept, wherein they take an actual salad bowl and turn it into a literal salad bar, convenient considering salads require prep.
Slice Sauce: This is very futuristic IMO, like the fact that this sauce can be easily added to a burger sans mess, and peeled off easily like if it was a slice of cheese is genius.
Spreadable Espresso Martini: I literally have no words but I needed you to see what type of atrocities you all manifested with this espresso martini craze, you are all to blame.
The Good Patch: Wearable vitamins, wearable CBD, wearable hangover remedies, the patch went from being a smoker’s aid to now a must for any wellness enthusiast out there!
Gem: Love the literal approach of food vitamins that look fresh and not something synthetically made that can be found at some unkept aisle at a convenience store, they recently raised $10.5 M in funding.
Sourse: Chocolate vitamins that look like M&Ms which is always a good thing when you’re trying to pass off B12 to be honest, they went through a fresh rebrand and Sarah Hyland recently joined the company as co-founder.
Listen to us talk snacks with Bon Appetit!
Aura Bora dropped a new flavor, elderberry grapefruit.
Magic Spoon revealed a new cereal flavor as well.
Cop the first ever Snaxbox, in partnership with Foxtrot Market!
Shhhhhhhhhh! My favorite show is on, “What’s new you ask?!”
Rootless: Seaweed daily bites, beautiful branding and also launching soon!
Null Wines: Non-alcoholic wines that are launching soon!
Veso: Based in SF, modern aperitifs launching soon!
Intro: An energy drink for your drink, I KID YOU NOT.
1st/DAIT: Speaking of functional unwinding, the first ever date mushroom coffee!
Groovies: Based in Monterrey and proof that DTC cereal craze has reached LatAm, launching soon!
Spoonful of News 🥄
Kraft launches powdered flavors for their Mac-n-cheese and it’s now a club called FLVRS, no thanks.
Martha Stewart launched some cringe worth pumpkin NFTs, FFS!
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