November 7, 2014 4:05 pm

You may remember a familiar scene from cult-classic Back to the Future, Part II. Middle-aged Marty McFly is at the dinner table with his family, and his mother takes a small disk from a shiny foil packet and pops it into a Black and Decker “Hydrator,” a device that resembles a cross between a microwave and a toaster oven. In about three seconds, a piping hot pizza is ready to be served to the family. Supposedly, this is what 2015 is going to look like.

Considering that we’re nearly done with 2014, it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to see Hydrators, hoverboards, or flying cars any time before 2015. (Although the self-lacing shoes might become a reality, thanks to Nike.) However, there are some recent innovations in the food and restaurant industries that could change your eating and dining experiences.

Sweet Treat

First we had Dippin’ Dots, the “Ice Cream of the Future” that used nitrogen to flash freeze ice cream into colorful little dots. Now, scientists from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec have invented a product similar to ice cream or sorbet that can be stored at room temperature until ready to be frozen and eaten. By removing the lid, letting a little air in, and shaking the container, you initiate a chemical process. Simply pop it in the freezer for a few hours and you have a cool, delicious treat. For all of you wondering about health concerns, the creators say that it is pasteurized, vegan, dairy-free, gluten free, high fiber, and contains zero cholesterol. Anyone with a sweet tooth knows that ice cream takes up major room in the freezer, and this invention could benefit households and restaurants alike by freeing up some space while it is stored.

Turn It Up, Cool It Down

We’ve all heard of or cooked with a griddle. Turn on your stove-top and fry up some bacon for your breakfast or make a sizzling burger for dinner. But, have you heard of an anti-griddle? An anti-griddle is a new device that rapidly cools your items instead of heating them. At a temperature of -30 degrees Fahrenheit, the anti-griddle flash freezes foods; liquids, oils, and gels generally freeze in 30 to 90 seconds. Although it hasn’t yet been used widely, many chefs are coming up with ways to make scrumptious desserts that have a crunchy outside and a soft, creamy inside.  A popular recipe is flash-frozen hot chocolate served with a warm sauce. Sound tasty? A PolyScience Anti-Griddle may be at a trendy restaurant near you sometime soon.

Tableside Tech

If you’ve been in a Chili’s lately, you may have noticed that their tables have received an upgrade. Many Chili’s locations across the U.S. have outfitted their dining rooms with Ziosk tablets that allow you to look through the menu, order your drinks and meal, pay the bill, and even play games. The cooks still cook and servers still deliver your food, but pretty much every other step in the process can be completed by this tablet. Studies have found that eliminating the human element of the ordering process may cause people to spend more money through impulse orders, especially for appetizers. Many more desserts are also being ordered because the tablet displays gooey chocolate cake or other tasty sweets all throughout the meal. It’s only a matter of time until you see tablets and other tech on your table at a many restaurants.

Personalized Pepsi

There are so many varieties of Pepsi. From Cherry to Diet, there are many options to quench your thirst. But what if you’re seeking something that isn’t on the typical restaurant menu? Pepsi Spire is a digital touch screen drink dispenser that gives you over 1000 combinations in soft drinks to fit your personal thirst. The machine includes the more obvious Pepsi choices, such as regular Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Caffeine-Free Pepsi, but also gives you options such as Mountain Dew, Brisk Ice Tea, SoBe Lifewater, and Tropicana Lemonade. Mix as many as you’d like, then add up to 3 flavor shots, including cherry, vanilla, strawberry, lemon, raspberry, and lime. You can mix many different flavors and sodas to make your perfect personalized drink. Pepsi Spire currently has less than 100 machines across the United States, but they are quickly unveiling new locations.

Innovative products are revolutionizing the way we dine. Every day, there seems to be new apps that help you order food or find new restaurants. Technology has played a huge role in how food is prepared and how it tastes. Customization and personalization are adding more options and varieties to everyday products, foods, and beverages. These innovations can enhance your dining experience, amp up a traditional dish, and help restaurants to make tastier food – faster and cheaper.

What innovations have you seen in restaurants? Are you using any cool new products in your own kitchen?


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