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.
A line of 50 people (we counted) waiting for a snack of one half hot dog. Overheard one of them say, I can't say No to a hot dog. Guess not.
Man proud of pants. And who wouldn't be.
Green screen silliness in support of Idaho potatoes. Not sure we understand, but people had fun with it.
Our suggestion is to give your product a name that can be pronounced. Just a thought.
It's ice cream, it's caffeine. It's...Bang!! Jason Kritz says he's not a big coffee drinker, though he must like ice cream.
The first sip is free.
Umami in a box, a blend of bonito and kelp.
It wouldn't be a trade show without attractive female presenters. She was actually Ms. May, in this year's Demo Dollies of the NRA Annual Calendar. Order yours now!
What AMB-Eco does is deliver to a restaurant a rack filled with microgreens planted in pulverized cocoanut shells. Throughout the week, the microgreens grow and are harvested at the restaurant, and every week an AMB-Eco service team comes back to put in whole new racks of seedlings (based on the restaurants usage records), and so the cycle begins again. Chicago's Moto is using the system now, and this is one we see big potential for. Grub Street interviewed Andrew Fernitz of AMB-Eco at an earlier stage of his plans here.
Funny or frightening. You decide.
It's called an iFork because, um, not sure. But it's supposed to be less likely to attract bacteria because it's curved and has a little ball that keeps your tines from touching the table.
Seems like it might be a good idea, but not sure how much food actually sticks to slow cooker walls.
Romaine engineered to fit neatly into boxes, reducing waste and flavor.
We’re not crazy about products that market themselves in imitation of that which they are not (looking at you, Tofurky), but soybean-based Wowbutter is a very feasible peanut butter replacement, because it actually tastes as good as (even, actually, almost exactly like) peanut butter, though it contains no goobers. It’s also a good source of Omega-3 and complete protein. As an added bonus, you can peel back the label to access a bunch of stickers that go on your kid’s lunch bag to announce that the product is peanut-free.
For when you just don't have time to dip every fry in ketchup.
Guess who won an Innovation Award for Menu Development. Go on, guess.
Waffles remain a key field for innovation. As with Wafflestix— it's a waffle, it's a... you get the idea.
You've heard, perhaps, of chicken n' waffles. This is chicken IN waffles, at the Golden Waffles booth.
You can also put barbecued pork into waffles... because it's fun!
This truck will hit the streets in Chicago next week.
Snack that pretty much reflects food at the show, not very tasty, but free.
Peru is the hottest new culinary capitol and easily the best food at the show was from chef Ricardo Zarate at the PromPeru booth ("Promoting Peru"), like this quinoa 2 ways with bell pepper.
Blood sausage, quail egg, and salsa criolla at PromPeru booth.
For the Benihana of the 21st century, a smokeless, non-sticking teppanyaki grill.
We could almost see wearing this. Almost.
Mass-signed guitars, tiny Ali gloves, and tiny MJ b-ball. Ways to class up a joint.
A whole bar, move-in condition, all you need is the real estate to place it in. And the hookups. And a liquor license.
Scary animatronic servers.
And then there was... this.
Aerate wine more quickly with modfied lab equipment called a Nanocanter. A magnetized stirrer creates tornadic swirl in wine, increasing surface area for better breathing.
The automated wine dispenser from Enomatic is one of maybe five similar products we saw at the NRA Show. We spotted these devices in Chicago only within the past year or so, and although we can’t say we’re keen on getting up to use a credit card every time we want another glass, this equipment makes a lot of sense behind the bar. Once open, a bottle of wine in these dispensers will hold for up to thirty days without refrigeration, and merchants can be certain that they’re not losing money due to over-generous pours. A robotic wine steward may seem less romantic than having a bottle uncorked just for you by a human, but it’s more economical and if using this machine wrecks the mood for you, just don’t watch.
Robotic drink mixer. It's reassuring to know that when the humans are dead, there will still be cocktails.
Most Viewed Stories
Watch a Tokyo Chef Explain the Rules of Eating Sushi
Tim Hortons Rolls Out Monstrous ‘Buffalo Crunch’ Doughnut
Stephen Tanner on Being a Germophobe, Killer Boston Pizza, and Why He Hates ‘Munchies’
There’s a Real Friends Central Perk Coming to Lower Manhattan
Community Board Says Pranna’s Bottomless Brunch Has to Go
Search by name
Or, search by
Latest News on Grub StreetFair Folks Opens Coffee Bar in the East Village; Labor Day Parties
Today's Leftovers.Maryland Stadium Unveils 1-and-a-Half Pound Pretzel Smothered With Cheesy Crab Dip
It serves four, and at $17.50, that's a steal.Obamas’ Personal Chef Taking Over Stone Barns on Saturday for Giant Wedding
The so-called political "'It couple' of the year" are keeping it low-key.Ex Employee Sues Little Caesars for Denying Same-Sex Spouse Insurance Benefits
Spouses at Little Caesars are "the opposite gender from you."Magnolia Bakery Just Opened a Terribly Timed Moscow Location
The empire-building sweets chain is optimistic about locally sourced buttercream.Community Board Says Pranna’s Bottomless Brunch Has to Go
It's on a three-month probation after neighbors' complaints last night.Watch a Tokyo Chef Explain the Rules of Eating Sushi
Don't even think about putting that pickled ginger on the fish.Stephen Tanner on Being a Germophobe, Killer Boston Pizza, and Why He Hates ‘Munchies’
"That’s an abomination."Scotland Finally Has Haggis-and-Whisky Flavored Chips
Finally, a flavor everyone can get behind.Labor Day at M. Wells; Erica Jong at Contrada
It's the perfect place to go if it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.You Can Now Get Mission Cantina’s Full Menu Delivered
Chicken wings and beef-tongue tacos and spare ribs.Subway Inn's Eviction Order Blocked Yet Again
Now head over there right now and get a celebratory beer.Cool New Restaurant Opens in Lower Manhattan This Weekend
Discerning patrons will want to try the $300 Dom-and-pancakes special.Dairy Queen Served a Chemical-Cleaner-Laced Milkshake to a Kid
The tainted drink made the 7-year-old's mouth start "bubbling."Corn Dogs and Peach Pie Concretes Return to Shake Shack This Weekend
Also, it's your last chance to get a pint of Shack X IPA.Brooklyn Fare Manhattan Is Two Light Fixtures Away From Opening After a Chef Shuffle
The original Brooklyn location will close while César Ramirez concentrates on the new location.New Report Finds 40% of Restaurant Workers Live in Near Poverty
Workers outside the industry make almost twice as much.The Other Critics: Reviews of Batard, Root & Bone, and élan
This week's roundup.Tim Hortons Rolls Out Monstrous ‘Buffalo Crunch’ Doughnut
The Canadian chain is serving a prototype doughnut with spicy crushed tortillas and a pool of Buffalo-wing sauce in the center.
Today's Leftovers.This? Just an Excellent Walter White Portrait Made With Ketchup
"Heinz-enberg."Dirty French Opens September 2
The tarte au citron will be made with preserved lemons.5 Things Alex Stupak Learned About Tacos al Pastor in Mexico
The biggest takeaways that the New York chef will apply to his own version of the iconic street food.Uber Begins Testing 10-Minute Food Delivery
Maybe prepare for $35 surge-priced chicken-noodle soup.Small Town Isn’t So Sure It Wants to Host Giant Party for 1,000 Bud Light Fans
They certainly don't want the beer company to paint all of its lampposts electric blue.French Chefs Launched a Petition to Ban Negative Online Reviews
More than 1,700 people have signed it.An All-Nutella Restaurant Will Open in Park Slope
It just has to outpace Nutella manufacturer Ferrero's spry legal team first.Burger King Will Pay $11.4 Billion for Tim Hortons
And that figure isn't even in Canadian dollars.New York Now Has 3 Fewer Fro-Yo Places
It's a cold, cold world.
Today's Leftovers.What to Eat at This Year’s U.S. Open
The concessions this year include the debut of the U.S. Open's first grounds-sanctioned food truck.Arby’s Latest Meat Monstrosity Is Aptly Named the ‘Meat Mountain’
Eight meats, two cheeses, no container large enough to hold it.Little Caesars Will Roll Out Pretzel-Crust Pizzas Nationwide Next Week
Pizza and pretzel, now in holy, fast-food union, for $6 a pop.Famous West Village Bar Chumley’s Should Be Reopening Any Month Now
It's been closed for seven years.Tiny Bistro Faces Backlash After Removing 'Insensitive' Bacon Sign
One guy's pretty sure "the First Amendment extends to bacon."Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich Will Take Over La Bottega in the Maritime Hotel
Let's all take a trip to "terraced hillsides of Positano."Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi Aim to Change the Fast-Food Game With Loco’l
A healthy alternative.Wine Losses From Northern California Quake Will Likely Total Millions
Some wine producers lost dozens of barrels, while others lost just a few bottles.Burger King May Buy Tim Hortons and Move Operations to Canada
Doughnut Whoppers are this much closer to being a real thing.
Because while researching the history of the area, the team discovered these two things.Birds & Bubbles to Open Next Month, With a $55 Fried Chicken and Champagne Split Special
“Champagne is one of the best pairings for food overall.”The 20 Best Nightlife Picks for Fall
Ibiza parties, aerialists, and the new darts bar around the corner.36 New Restaurants Opening This Fall
A look at the season's most anticipated spots.Long Island’s Other Jewish Ramen Savant Explains How Mu Ramen Came To Be
Smookler and his wife will open the restaurant this fall.Fall Preview: Mexican-Restaurant News
Including Alegre, Rosie's, and Tacuba.Maiz Start-up Masienda Supplies Tortilla-Crazed Chefs With Exotic Breeds of Mexican Corn
Mexican-food mavens will soon progress from asking “Where do you get your tortillas?” to “Where do you get the corn for your tortillas?”Enrique Olvera to Serve ‘Single-Origin’ Tortillas at Cosme, Opening Next Week
“Because without a good tortilla, you can’t have a good restaurant. It’s everything.”Al Pastor Tacos Will Be the Main Attraction at Alex Stupak’s Empellón al Pastor, Opening Next Month
The idea is to strip everything down to the bare minimum.The Elm Headlines Taste of Williamsburg; Bees Knees Spicy Honey Hits Whole Foods