The Genius and the Goofy: Glimpsing the Future at the National Restaurant Show

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Photo: David Hammond

The National Restaurant Association Show, one of the largest trade events in the food industry, kicked off in Chicago on Saturday and runs through Tuesday. Attracting almost 2,000 suppliers and tens of thousands of buyers, it's a magnet for every kitchen tinkerer and weird food scientist out there. Some of what they proudly display is just good for laughs; some of it is just crazy enough to be adopted by some genius chef and made the hallmark of his or her cuisine. And some of it does such unnatural things to food that it will be immediately embraced by the fast food industry and turn up soon at a drive-through near you. So although some of the products in the following slides may strike one as preposterous and doomed, just remember, they also laughed at Ron Popeil and his Pocket Fisherman, and he's retired in Beverly Hills. Here's the best and strangest of what we saw at the food revolution, 2013 edition.