San Francisco restaurant chain, The Melt, may have the answer to all your (first world) grievances for less-than-fresh delivered food.
Jonathan Kaplan, The Melt’s founder and the man behind the Flip video camera, began tackling the problem with his team almost immediately after their camera launch in September 2009. Many years later, they are unveiling The Smart Box.
It started with numerous complaints from customers – their grilled cheese never arrived crisp, gooey or warm within that 30-60 minute delivery window. Indeed, Kaplan’s team later found it only took seven minutes for a grilled cheese sandwich to get cold – hardening the cheese and trapping moisture in the bread. And who wouldn’t be tempted by soggy, hard grilled cheese sandwiches?
Since the team couldn’t bend the natural laws of physics, they turned their efforts to finding a transport solution.
Give us our fresh grilled cheese
At the time, no such thing existed that met the delicate and myriad conditions that the mighty grilled cheese sandwich demands. Rest assured, it is fussier than the pedestrian pizza. So the restaurant commissioned a team who has worked with NASA to help them create a ‘transport box’ themselves.
Their first prototype was basically a cardboard box with holes and a hair dryer was shoved into one of them. Four iterations later, with greater sophistication, they made the Smart Box pictured above. It uses a hot plate with a shield so it doesn’t burn its contents. A fan ensures air circulates properly through each sandwich. Then sensors detect the internal temperature and humidity while a microcontroller allows you to adjust them.
So the grilled cheese gods were appeased. We commoners will ask, of course, if the Box may be used elsewhere for other problematic delivery foods. Kaplan’s team remains steadfast, insisting their clientele and the Almighty Grilled Cheese are foremost in their minds but the possibility of selling the tech to other restaurants is always there.