The Uncola

You’ve heard the rumors.

“The formula is top secret. They keep it locked in a radiation-proof bunker 60,000 ft below the surface of the middle of the Mojave desert.”

“No way. Everyone knows that they coded the recipe on a chip and implanted in the cranial cavity of an anonymous suburban house-wife. When they need it they send out high-frequency radio waves and activate her a la the Manchurian Candidate.”

“You guys are both wrong. Why would they keep the whole formula in one place? Duh. Each member of the board has memorized one part of the recipe. And once every decade they gather on a boat in international waters to initiate new board members, pass along the knowledge, and bet on endangered monkey fights.”

Who’s to say what is or isn’t true? All I’m saying is that the New York Times published a recipe back in 2014 that’s very similar to the infamous Coke. In class we took some liberties with that recipe to create our own un-cola version of “capitalism’s dirty water.” And this week was all about experimenting with flavor profiles and expanding our mind’s palate. Or our palate’s mind.

My secret ingredients? Pretzels and Twizzlers. Two matches made in heaven with Coke.

Photo Sep 17, 7 57 28 PM
The real ingredients
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Added to the Twizzler syrup
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The final concoction

By every measure there was no way that this should have been fit for human consumption…but…it was decent! Not great. I wouldn’t serve this to anyone who wasn’t was nursing or pregnant. But it was drinkable, and even, dare I say? Enjoyable.

Stick a Pin in It

I’m doubling dipping here. This 3D printed map pin is this week’s project for both Design for 3D and Culinary Physics.

It fits within a 3″ x 3″ x 3″ cube (for now). Design for 3D: check.

And it’s also my Homunculus re: my relationship with food. When I’m eating something delicious I’m totally absorbed in the experience. A good bite provides all the sensory input needed to stick a pin in place and time – imprinting an ever-lasting when and where and with what flavors.

Culinary Physics: check.  

In Rhino I created a few iterations of the design. Sort of my version of the ubiquitous “You Are Here” digital map pin.


Once the design was done I took it over to Makerbot, checked the settings, and exported a .makerbot file to a USB. (Nice custom file extension you guys! You deserve it.) A few button clicks on the Replicator 5 later I was off and printing.

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After a little clean up with an Xacto blade (large one is about 60mm)…


Being able to turn a physical object over in your hands is a powerful thing. I think I probably missed out by not, at least, messing around with the Makerbots last year. As soon as I had this little guy in my hand I had ten new ideas. Hopefully we’ll have enough filament.

Culinary Physics Readings: Week 2

“And rightly so,” Kenneth Chang writes in Food 2.0, a 2007 New York Times article on the (then) novel application of chemistry and science for restaurant culinary purposes, “Cooking is chemistry after all.”

Heat, time, reaction speed, surface area, solution, emulsion, volume, salinity, mixture. It’s amazing that for practically its entire history cooking has borrowed the vocabulary of chemistry, but left untouched the practical and more scientific components. Of course, I’m generally talking about the home cook and the world of restaurants. Large food corporations have been employing chemists since the the early days. Those “processed” foods we see all over the place have been altered from their natural state. And a lot of that alteration is chemical in nature.

But in the last decade and a half or so restaurants and bars have been experimenting with ways to create higher quality products from raw ingredients. Guys like Dave Arnold, who started the French Culinary Institute’s Culinary Technology department and opened the bar Booker and Dax, have always had as their primary objective higher quality.

It’s better eating through chemistry these days as restaurant kitchens regularly cook with technologies developed in labs and even have labs of their own. And it’s better design through cooking as classes like Culinary Physics appropriate these same technologies for more experimental and artistic purposes.