COVID-19 Food Innovations: Best Or Worst Of Two Worlds?

I can see why some might reason that putting together two legendary food faves might result in an innovation even more fabulous than the simple sum of the two parts. But, then again, this one might just be the result of someone’s fevered pandemic lock down dream. The combo just doesn’t work for me…

Why do we need this ‘new product’, which is obviously designed to capitalize
on the current Fast Food sector Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich War?

What happens when someone with an active, creative psyche is cooped up at home for months isolating themselves from a pandemic virus that is raging across the world like a mongol horde of yesteryear? If he is a product development guru who usually works amid a team of other creative types, who now has no outlet for his creative juices, watch out.

One plus one equals 11?

It all seems logical to him. People love Ice Cream. People Love Fried Chicken. There’s currently a huge fad for Fried Chicken sweeping the Fast Food world. All the first-tier Fast Food chains and most of the tier-two outfits have jumped on the wagon. In the past two weeks, one major player which already has a relatively new Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich has declared enhancements and variants designed to elevate its product and brand above the crowd. Another – specializing in Tex Mex food – has announced a new Fried Chicken Breast Taco. That’s Taco Bell, who’s come in for some big-time joshing from its competition who’ve been tweeting photos of what they think the new Chicken Taco will look like that are simply standard product snaps of the TB Chicken Breast Sandwich turned on their sides…

Other folks with bigger Internet megaphones than mine have started declaring it ‘Chicken Sandwich Wars 2.0’. And that should be big enough to keep anybody in the Fast Food marketing and development sphere interested. But no.

An incomprehensible combo

I think it’s more likely that our fictional product development guy has challenged himself to come up with something that’s really different, really appealing to the masses, and so potentially successful that he’ll be able to retire on his bonuses for hatching the idea.

“How,” he reasons, “could anyone come up with a more perfect pair than Ice Cream shaped like Chicken parts and rolled in crushed Corn Flakes?”

I have some real reservations

I love Fried Chicken. And I love Ice Cream. And I’ve even crusted both in Corn Flakes before. But I’ve never tried them in the same bite. Never considered it. My brain; my taste buds can’t comprehend that mash-up. Am I simply admitting I’m so old-fashioned, so uncool (is ‘being cool’ even still a thing’?) that I’m devaluing my personal currency and falling hopelessly behind the times?

When I first saw the post about the new product, Not Fried Chicken by Life Raft Treats, I wonderd, “Why on earth would anybody need this stuff?” That quickly segued to, “Why would anybody want this stuff?” Then I fip-flopped to: “How could anybody even consider eating this stuff without risking permanently alienating their taste buds from their mouths?”

It’s just that I, for one, can’t reconcile the unmistakable ‘savoury’ visual identity of the product with it’s concealed interior composition. I expect Fried Chicken to be hot, not cold. And I can’t overcome the notion that pops up in my mind that it’s going to taste like Fried Chicken Ice Cream. And that just doesn’t make sense to me, no matter how I look at it.

Who are these guys, anyway?

The folks who make Not Fried Chicken Ice Cream, Life Raft Treats, bill themselves as, “[…] founded by Cynthia Wong, a six-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Life Raft celebrates the ice cream truck goodies of yesteryear by reinventing them with humor and artisan techniques.”

Well, that explains at least part of the mystery.

One of the first things you notice when you visit their website is that they also offer an Ice Cream Taco. They’re really serious about this nuttiness!

My take

Their artistic flare is undeniable. But so good is their product design and execution that I suspect their prices are pretty extreme, compared with the Ice Cream Truck treats of yesteryear.

I like their philosophy about ingredients and so on. But I have to wonder how realistic their overall business model is. Nevertheless, I guess there are enough rich people there are in the world to keep them afloat – in high style – indefinitely.

What I really wonder about is – at a time in history when more people are starving in the world then ever before in our lifetimes, and food is getting scarce even in places like the U.S which are customarily considered ‘lands of plenty’ –  what’s the relevance of a product like Not Fried Chicken?

It’s a modern day ‘mystery of the sphinx’. But I also remind myself that the same question has come up at various points in history about the relevance of various government policies and social priorities. And lines from the classic poem Ozymandias by Percy Shelly come to mind:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Gimme a bucket of really fresh, hot KFC any day!

Maggie J.