Monday, March 4, 2013

Couch Potatoes

In my freshman food policy seminar we've been talking lately about all the insidious ways the food industry designs and markets new products. Mostly junk food, convenience food and products purporting to confer health benefits. We agree in general that they're addictive, designed to make you overeat, and they are ingeniously advertised to trigger a wide array of emotions including fear, guilt, lust, competition. I thought it would be fun to have the students design their own products. They came up with things like snortable powdered soda for budding coke fiends, a men's weigh loss product in the form of hot sauce that contains parasitic nematodes that eat your food while inside you. I love that one. But another really hit home. It was one student's idea inititally but we all sort of ran away with it.

So, imagine a food designed to be hand held, to eat in front of the TV, on your computer, while gaming. It looks exactly like a small potato, and more or less is. But inside is a full savory meal. The potato is already mashed and within there might be turkey and gravy, roast beef and onions, ham and cheese. They're shelf stable until microwaved, in an ingenious egg carton like container, so you eat several and they can be placed on a table without rolling away. Maybe a four pack. Great for parties too, because a finger food. I was about to make a prototype this weekend, but then hesitated. DO I make it in an actual scooped out potato, so it would be more or less like a stuffed baked potato? Advantage: your hands stay clean and it looks exactly like a potato. OR do I make a potato shaped croquette and deep fry it? Crunchier exterior, but hands a little greasy. And making sure they don't collapse might be a problem. But the latter sounds tastier.

What do you you think? Couch potatoes with the skin or without?

13 comments:

Glenn said...

From a marketing standpoint, crunchy wins every time--the problem is that it's hard to get crunch out of your microwave. Not impossible, but more difficult.

lostpastremembered said...

I'm loving your student's ingenuity. I like the idea of the whole potato with skin. Sneaky insides... very cool. I loved those little stuffed potatoes in the 90's that were stuffed with caviar and sour cream... yum, they were great bites.

Methylgrace said...

Croquette, of course! Also, I saw something like it on Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives recently - it was a full thanksgiving dinner (turkey, stuffing, gravy) wrapped up in mashed potatoes. It would probably be good with sweet potato to be marketed in the South?
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/turkey-balls-recipe/index.html

Konstantina Delfakis Johnson said...

I would think the potato skin would have to be quite thin or there might be problems eating it easily. Imagine your teeth don't quite break through the skin, and the filling squishes out the side and falls on your bathrobe. (I feel like I would eat this while wearing a bathrobe.)

Scoff in the city said...

I think potato skins - neater and more fun, I like the idea of it looking like a normal potato.

rowanberrywine said...

This is a tough one. I think the spirit of the thing demands the croquette (NOT called that) perhaps with some clever packaging that looks like a potato skin but isn't. Those skins would be hard to eat, as Konstantina points out, and they have nutrients that might not be welcome. On the other hand, the faux potato part is important too, as Scoff points out. Can't wait to see the prototype...

Ken Albala said...

Oh you guys are making this SO tough. I'll have to make several, there's no way to know without actually tasting it. Should I post recipes too?

Glenn said...

Please! Only problem with this is that I can see this leading to a new cookbook..."New Kitchen Cooking for Sweatpants and Sofas"

Peter said...

Twice-baked, deep fried, and with copious melted cheese. You've got yourself a winner. The name is perfect, too.

Nick Trachet said...

the food already exists in the Baltic states: they are called cepelinai ("zeppelins")

Ken Albala said...

NIck, Thanks. I was certain someone must have done something like it. Interestingly enough, if memory serves, there's even a 16th c. version in Scappi made with chickpeas. Zepole. The word doesn't come from the dirigible, Graf van Zeppelin.

Timbaland said...

Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy WOW Power Leveling cheeks, red lips and supple WOW Power Leveling knees, it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, it is the freshness of the sell WOW Gold deep springs of life.

Timbaland said...

Years may wrinkle sell WOW Gold the skin, but to give up sell WOW Gold enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart sell WOW Gold and turns the spirit back to dust.