Would You Eat A Holiday Dinner in a Can? | Innovation | Smithsonian
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(Credit:GAME)

Would You Eat A Holiday Dinner in a Can?

British designer Chris Godfrey dreams up a tinned, nine-course meal for gamers glued to their consoles

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Nothing violates the sanctity of a cherished custom like sticking it in a can.

Want proof? Witness the French and their snubbing of canned wine. While the Japanese and Germans have taken to the portable practicality of wine in a can, less than 1 percent of French wine sold within the country comes tinned. Historically, craft beer makers eschewed metal containers for their special brews, trying to cultivate an image of distinguished superiority and distance themselves from the factory line Budweisers of the world (though that trend is starting to reverse again.) But there is something about the can, and the way it symbolizes the ultimate in convenience, that keeps designers, inventors and other innovators audaciously motivated to show that just about any grand experience imaginable can be canned, with little to no compromise. They say to try, for instance, whiskey in a can. Just give it a shot.

Though quite ingenuous (when you really think about it), the bulk of canning's maligned reputation, it appears, has much to do with its blue collar roots. Conceived, ironically, by Frenchman Philippe de Girard in 1810 as an inexpensive way to preserve food, cans have traditionally been associated with the urban working class. As the domain of miserly survivalists, canned food and beverages are typically what poorer folks stock up on during times of recession and prolonged economic hardship. The can’s already humbled image, however, isn’t helped any by egregious abominations such as Sweet Sue's whole chicken in a can and the peanut butter and jelly Candwich, which NPR's Sandwich Monday described as having a taste that's "somewhere on the continuum between Play-Doh and Taxicab Air Freshener."

So, what would we think of a Christmas Tinner, an entire Christmas dinner in, you guessed it, a can? Would it be the most convenient mass-produced full-course meal ever, or just the latest sacrilegious insult to the the holiest of holidays?  U.K. based video game retailer GAME purports to be offering the condensed meal as "the ultimate innovation" for those who "can’t tear themselves away from their new consoles and games on Christmas Day."

A diagram on the GAME's product site lists each of the nine courses as individual layers, starting with scrambled eggs and bacon on top, followed by mince pies and a main course of turkey, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and roasted carrots in the middle, and finishing up with a creamy layer of Christmas pudding. The product, which we suspect is more of an art piece than a serious commercial product, was designed by graphic artist Chris Godfrey, who, oddly enough, had previously created a similarly gimmicky 12-course romantic dinner as a way of lampooning the marketing tactics used by the food industry to sell processed goods. To make that version, he spent an hour preparing each gelatinized layer before adding it to the concoction so that the delineated portions remained intact. It was meant to be easily served right out of the can without the extraneous need for tidying up afterwards.

The idea for the Christmas Tinner was reportedly launched after the company found that 43 percent of gamers in the U.K. planned to spend most of the holiday season button mashing away in front of their consoles, according to CNET. Sales figures have shown that both the newly launched Xbox One Global and the Playstation 4 have each already surpassed 2 million units sold.

But anyone who finds the can-ization of such time-honored traditions abominable also needs to consider how insanely addicting video games are. A survey, conducted by Domino's Pizza, found that one-fifth of female gamers in the U.K. have skipped out on special occasions, such as weddings and bachelorette parties to game. Meanwhile, half of all male respondents said they've turned down sex just to stay glued to their controllers.

Cans of Christmas Tinner were said to have been recently distributed at a GAME location in Basingstoke, England, and the company allegedly may make the product available at more locations nationwide for £1.99 ($3.25) if demand rises. Currently, the product is listed as sold out at the retailer's online store.

But given the lack of verified purchases, the product smells more like a cooked-up publicity stunt than anything else.

 

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About Tuan C. Nguyen
Tuan C. Nguyen

Tuan C. Nguyen is a Silicon Valley-based journalist specializing in technology, health, design and innovation. His work has appeared in ABCNews.com, NBCNews.com, FoxNews.com, CBS' SmartPlanet and LiveScience.

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