Scientists have designed ‘programmable’ pasta shapes that transform when they’re cooked

What if your pasta could lie flat and occupy less shape when packaged, and morph into its desired shape when cooking? As odd as that design brief may sound, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and Zhejiang University City College are trying to figure out how to make pasta more ‘efficient’. Sure, it may give a couple of traditional Italian cooks and nonnas a panic attack, but hey… science does what science does, right?

Working on principles that are quite similar to those found in soft robotics and origami, these new pasta shapes start out as flat sheets of dried dough that warp into their signature design when you boil them in water. The secret lies in those unique ridges pressed into the pasta shapes that cause it to warp in different directions when the dough absorbs water and expands. The uniquely calibrated ridge depth and spacing, along with the pasta’s overall shape, result in some wonderfully unusual designs. It’s safe to say that the scientists must have gained a few pounds during the prototyping and testing phases. After all, who wouldn’t want to eat bowl after bowl of pasta for the sake of science??

The new pasta shapes are a combination of familiar and absolutely out-of-the-box forms, all calibrated to do two jobs – holding the sauce and tasting fabulous. Some of them are loosely based on popular designs like garganelli, fusilli, and ziti, while other shapes completely redefine the cuisine with how they look… with one clear distinction, creating a pasta that starts off as a flat, scored sheet of dough that transforms into a 3D shape when cooked.

“This mechanism allows us to demonstrate approaches that could improve the efficiency of certain food manufacturing processes and facilitate the sustainable packaging of food, for instance, by creating morphing pasta that can be flat-packed to reduce the air space in the packaging”, say the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Zhejiang University.

Designers: Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and Zhejiang University City College

Edible Food Seasoning Crayons: Flavoring Outside The Lines

Created by mother Nadia Lahrichi along with daughter and son team Veronique and Kamil, Food Crayons are edible, food seasoning sticks designed to be shaved onto dishes to add flavor. They sure bring back memories of kindergarten, don’t they? I always thought the reds and yellows tasted the best.

Single crayons cost around $15 (with the included sharpener) through the Food Crayon Etsy shop, with three-packs going for around $30, and come in a wide variety of flavors, including basil, chipotle, shallot, lemon, raspberry & balsamic, spicy mango, hot pepper and garlic, piña colada, black garlic, fig and balsamic, curry and turmeric, tomato and thyme, ginger, carrot orange ginger, lime, honey mustard, tangerine cinnamon, grapefruit and timut pepper, mushroom, and coconut yuzu. Am I going to gather as many crayons in my fist as I can and try to take a bite out of all the flavors at once? Can I call myself a foodie if I don’t?

Unfortunately for us purists, there isn’t any wax in the crayons, so you’ll have to shave an actual Crayola over your meal if that’s the flavor profile you’re trying to achieve. Although, based on the way my dinner guests all started spitting into their napkins as soon as they sampled the salad, I’m guessing their palates simply aren’t as refined as mine. Pass the glue stick?

[via DudeIWantThat]

This ASMR tableware elevates eating into a blissful sensory experience. Watch the video!

Before we even take a bite of that tasty dessert on the table, the anticipation assisted by our visual apparatus (our eyes) sends the signal to the brain. This is a way of nature to trigger the mechanical digestion in the mouth and the gut. Add the element of sound to the tasty mix and the treat is destined to be headed down the bliss route. The crisp sound of chewing the waffles or biting down on the strawberry – everything that you eat has the sound element which triggers the brain into nirvana.

The Sonic Seasoning by graduation project of RCA student Mengtian Zhang is a unique creation centered on the satisfying sensory experience of listening to ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) sounds even before we take a bite. This project culminated from Mengtian’s pandemic-induced lockdown experience when she took to watching ASMR cooking videos to remain stress-free. “I can feel the texture and flavor of food such as crunchiness and freshness behind the phone screen.” There Mengtian was struck with the idea of using sound and visual effects to elevate the buildup expectations of taste before the first bite hits the mouth. This resulted in the set of plates and cutlery connected to sensors for detecting touch which then triggers the appropriate notes to go with the whole eating experience.

Unique isn’t it? In her setup the tools like a scoop or toothpick-like poker measure the applied force, reacting with a pitch/chord. There’s a finger bowl dubbed “seasoning device” which plays the ambient sounds of crunches or bubbling when the food is dipped inside. “I think the whole eating experience should be full of fun at first, and then people will focus on the sense of taste changing subtly with sound,” says Zhang. Interestingly, she found out that these sensory inputs can enhance the perception of the food’s taste even though it might not be that tasty. A perfect case for serving a very low sugar diet, but still perceiving it to be a lot sweeter than it actually is.

Zhang wants to take her creation to a point where she collaborates with a restaurant or science museum to serve food with a completely unique element. As she summed it up appropriately, “I hope the funny part of the work could reduce the pain of having a diet.”

Designer: Mengtian Zhang

Cup Noodles Special Edition Yahtzee: Come On, Five Shrimps!

Cup Noodles: without them, I probably would have starved to death in college. Those and $1 frozen store-brand personal pizzas saved my life. Not my grades though. No… not my grades. YAHTZEE: Cup Noodles is a special edition of Yahtzee that comes in a Cup Noodles stylized cup and features dice printed with its common ingredients, including carrots, corn, lime, shrimp, beef, and chicken. Personally, my favorite flavor is Hot & Spicy with Shrimp.

Despite the above photo, the set does NOT include any actual noodles. A shame, I know. Available on Amazon (affiliate link), playing a game will likely last longer than it takes me to eat a real Cup Noodles, my current record of which, at least according to people who witnessed it, was “disgustingly fast.” The key is slurping.

Will I be disqualified for putting all the dice in my mouth after I don’t roll what I want? My wife is nodding her head, yes, making it easy for me to decide who is and isn’t invited to game night this week. So, is there a rule set for one-player Yahtzee?

[via The Awesomer]

Taco Baby Booties: For Your Little Burrito

Tacos: they’re tied with pizza for the food I’d pick if I could only choose only one kind to eat for the rest of my life on a deserted island. Let’s just hope it never comes to that though, because I love both dearly. Handmade by Gulnara Kydyrmyshova and other women in her Kyrgyzstan community, these Taco Booties available from Uncommon Goods make the perfect footwear for getting your young one started on Taco Tuesdays at an appropriately early age.

The Taco Booties are constructed of sheep’s wool that’s dyed, spun, and felted in small batches so no two booties are exactly alike. They cost $25 per pair (the only way to order tacos) and are designed to fit 6 to 12-month-old baby feet. But is that going to stop me from trying to wear a pair? Yes. I’m hungry, not crazy.

Now I just need a pair of pizza booties so I can mix and match my baby’s footwear. Not unlike how I’m wearing two different colored socks today. That’s the great thing about working from home though – there’s nobody here to make fun of me except my wife. Who, incidentally, makes fun of me harder than my whole office used to. I miss going to work sometimes.

[via Dude I Want That]

Korean BBQ Coffee Table: For Proper TV Dinners

Because nothing says ‘Honey, I’m home!’ like the delicious smell of sizzling bulgogi wafting from the living room, this is the Korean BBQ coffee table sold by woojuCorporation on Etsy. The table costs $650, has a removable grill and collapsable legs for slimline storage, and is quickly going to become my new favorite piece of home furniture.

The tables measure approximately 47″ x 30″ x 13″ and come in nine different finishes to match any home decor. The grill itself is powered by an easily replaceable bottle of butane. Of course, with no overhead exhaust hood, you can expect your living room to smell like cooked meat for several days after dinner.

I lived just a few blocks from Los Angeles’s Koreatown neighborhood for almost a decade, so I’m no stranger to all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. I miss it. Will this coffee table help satisfy my longing? I hope so. I also hope I don’t accidentally melt a TV remote or unwittingly cook my heels in the process.

[via DudeIWantThat]

T-Rex Skull Hard-Boiled Egg Mold: Making Fossils for Breakfast

How do you get your kids to eat their eggs? Simple — scramble them. Kids love scrambled eggs. Or is that me? More of a hard-boiled fan? Enter the EGG-A-MATIC t-rex skull egg mold (affiliate link) from Fred. It turns a boring hard-boiled egg into a delicious dinosaur skull. Rawr!

All you have to do is hard boil an egg, peel it, then while it’s still warm, place it in the mold and into the refrigerator to chill. Once it’s cool, TA-DA, you’ve got yourself a dinosaur skull-shaped egg. Obviously, if they aren’t charging $12 apiece for dinosaur-shaped eggs at Jurassic Park’s food stands, they’re missing out on a very lucrative revenue stream.

So – which came first, the dinosaur or the egg? I have no clue, but you better believe as soon as my time machine is operational, I’ll be the first to find out and finally put the mystery to rest. Nobel Prize Winner sure has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

[via The Green Head]

This Sandwich Looks Like a Sneaker

Photos by Miki Takahira

When is a sandwich, not a sandwich? When it’s a shoe, of course. I mean, I’ve heard the expressions “I’ll eat my hat” and “Eat my shorts,” but never “Eat my shoes.” Still, I’m quite impressed with the food artistry on display here.

Japanese artist and designer Manami Sasaki is an expert at turning bread and toast into beautiful and edible works of art. I mean, just check out their mouth-watering Instagram feed, and you’re gonna get hungry. Among Sasaki’s many delectable creations is this sandwich that looks like a sneaker. It’s made of precisely cut and sculpted pieced of bread glued together with flour and water and filled with veggies inside of the sole. I prefer my sneakers with ham and cheese, but that’s just me.

I suppose I could try and make my own sneaker sandwich, but I think it’ll just end up looking like a blob of bread with fingerprints all over it.

[via Neatorama and Laughing Squid]

3D Printer Hacked Into Sandwich Making Robot

Sandwiches: what would I do without them? Probably starve, or at least go hungry for lunch. Well, now mechanical engineer Yuto Kuroki of Meiji University in Tokyo has made the entire sandwich-making process easier, thanks to a 3D printer that’s been modded into a 3-axis robotic manipulator. Extra cheese, please!

The robot is capable of picking up and placing a piece of bread, picking up and adding meat, slicing and dispersing cucumber, then adding a top piece of bread and cutting the whole sandwich in half. Unfortunately not diagonally, making the sandwich almost inedible as far as I’m concerned.

I particularly liked how the robot regularly detaches and attaches a different functional head to its arm depending on its current task (e.g. picking something up, cutting, etc.). That’s a clever design. Now it just needs mustard and mayonnaise squirting capabilities and I won’t have to beg my mom to make my lunch for me every morning, although I will miss the encouraging handwritten notes.

[via BoingBoing]

Freeze-Dried Candy: For Topping Your Astronaut Ice Cream

Because nothing says I’m eating like an astronaut like freeze-dried foods, this is the collection of freeze-dried candies available from Etsy shop Stellar Rabbit Foods. Available in Rainbow Puffs (Skittles), Worm Puffs (gummy worms), Mega Blasts (Starburst) and Tart Puffs (SweetTARTS) varieties, each 1-ounce bag costs $8 and is sure to put a smile on your face, and a cavity in that smile.

Just what does the freeze-drying process do to candy? Well according to the company, it “transforms once chewy candies into an airy, light, crunchy and melt in your mouth texture. The process of freeze-drying our candy intensifies the flavors making them even better than before! Take a moment and savor flavor before crunching down into them!” Yum! I think it goes without saying I just ordered a bag of each.

I remember when I was a kid I would eat a bar of chalky, freeze-dried ice cream and daydream about traveling among the stars. Now I’m afraid to travel higher than the third floor of any building and cry on Ferris wheels. Long story short, I’m not an astronaut.

[via DudeIWantThat]