The Weekly Spoon for 04/17/17 : Meet The PicoStill, Home Distilling 2017, Language For The Internet of Food

In our last newsletter, I wrote about how PicoBrew had just broke the record for the fastest funded food project of all time. 

Turns out, they were just getting started.

Since then, the company has announced Pico users will soon be able to make kombucha. If that wasn't enough, the company also announced the PicoStill, an add-on to the Pico brewing appliance that will allow a user to make essential oils and, if they're so inclined, whiskey or other spirits in the comfort of their own home.

Of course, making spirits at home is still illegal at the federal level in the US and could be for some time. As I wrote in this piece on the state of home distilling in 2017, there has been an effort in recent years to craft legislation to make home distilling legal, but the outlook for such efforts has become murky under the Trump administration. 

That said, home distilling is practiced by what is likely hundreds of thousands of people in US today and PicoBrew hopes to expand that market even more by giving consumers an easy way to get started.

We've got lots of other great stories this week, including a look at the newly renamed Chowbotics and their salad making robot (named Sally, of course), Grubhub's effort to survive against deep pocketed competition, a newly hot foodtech investment landscape and more. 

Make sure to also check out our most recent podcast where I talk to Dr. Matthew Lange about how an experience as a young medical intern set him on his course to help define a common language for the Internet of Food. 

Also, remember: If you missed out on our March 31st deadline for Super Early Bird tickets for the Smart Kitchen Summit, don't worry: we still have some great deals. You can get Early Bird tickets and when you apply our discount code NEWSLETTER to get 15% off of any ticket price. Simply use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

If you're a loyal reader of this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Have a great week.


Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 04/17/2017 edition:

PicoBrew Announces PicoStill, A Home Still That Makes Whiskey (And Oh Yeah, Essential Oils)

By Michael Wolf on Apr 17, 2017 06:02 am
One of the worst kept secrets in craft distilling is nearly every whiskey maker gets their start making the good stuff at home. One only has to look at the many home stills for sale online to see there’s a strong market for home distillation equipment. Everything from big vats for making moonshine to smaller copper pot […]
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The Robots Are Coming, And They’re Bringing Salads

By Ashley Daigneault on Apr 17, 2017 05:00 am
The restaurant salad bar is often a mixed bag – sometimes it’s great, other times the ingredients are sad, with wilted lettuce and less-than-fresh cucumbers side-by-side. And sometimes the salad options at traditionally fast food chains are just downright sad. That’s where Sally comes in. She’s the robot from Chowbotics Inc., a robotics and AI […]
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PicoBrew Expands Beyond Beer By Adding Kombucha To The Menu

By Allen Weiner on Apr 15, 2017 06:49 am
Once the domain of hippies and diehard health foodies, kombucha is making a major impact on the world of ready-to-drink beverages. It is made with a simple fermentation process that uses tea, sugar, water and a gelatinous mushroom-like culture called a scoby. One global research firm estimates the fizzy, probiotic drink will hit close to […]
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Can You Make Hooch At Home? Not Yet. Here’s The State Of Home Distilling in 2017

By Michael Wolf on Apr 14, 2017 08:55 am
If you want to create your own booze, I have good news for you: With home distilling kits widely available online and an abundance of of information about how to make liquor through books and websites, it’s easier than ever to make hooch at home. But there’s still one problem for all you aspiring Jasper Newton Daniels […]
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Grubhub’s Future Clouded by Big-Monied Competition

By Allen Weiner on Apr 14, 2017 05:13 am
Once the darling of the restaurant-to-home delivery business, Grubhub’s TV commercial tagline “click, click, food,” may be in danger of becoming an internet relic.  With the explosive growth of well-heeled competition in this market space, there is increased skepticism from Wall Street and investors. Despite its current lofty standing, in which the Chicago-based company works […]
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The Future Of How (And What) We Eat

By Ashley Daigneault on Apr 13, 2017 09:22 am
Could technology change the way we eat?
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Podcast: Creating A Common Language For The Internet of Food

By Michael Wolf on Apr 13, 2017 06:30 am
A traumatic early experience as a young medical intern set Dr. Matthew Lange on a career course to change the way the world thinks about nutrition. He realized early on that medical community had it backward: by focusing on treatment of people sick from years of poor eating habits rather than helping people to better […]
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Freshub Partners With Big Data To Make Smart Kitchen Shopping Easier

By Ashley Daigneault on Apr 13, 2017 06:10 am
Freshub announces a partnership with IRI to create a recommendation engine for appliances and devices with in-home and digital grocery shopping platforms.
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Reheated: Q1 2017 Shows Food & Beverage Investment Is Hot Once Again

By Amy Cravens on Apr 12, 2017 09:35 am
Food and beverage are hot again. After a sluggish 2016, a strong first quarter of 2017 suggests investment in the food and beverage sector could be set for a comeback on an annualized basis according to CB Insights.  This would be a reversal from the past couple years, which has seen food and beverage sector investment decelerate […]
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Here’s The Most Exciting New Coffee Tech Of 2017

By Michael Wolf on Apr 11, 2017 02:04 pm
Ready for a jolt of innovation with your morning caffeine fix? Good thing, because 2017 looks like it could serve up a double shot of disruptive coffee technology. Due to a combination of emerging taste trends, technologies, and good timing, 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the world of coffee. Here are the products that […]
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The Weekly Spoon for 04/05/17 : PicoBrew Breaks Kickstarter Record, Mellow Gets New CEO, A Conversation with Crowd Cow

If crowdfunding is a science, then there's no doubt that PicoBrew has a PhD in the subject. 

That's because the company launched their latest Kickstarter campaign this week and managed to break the record for the fastest funded food project in Kickstarter history. The record breaking campaign is for the Pico C, the company's latest home beer brewing appliance, which early backers could buy starting at $279 this past Monday. 

I've followed a lot of hardware crowdfunding campaigns and believe there is a recipe for success. One of the key factors is creating lots of interesting pledge options and rolling them out over the course of the campaign. This is something PicoBrew has proved masterful at in the past, so I'm sure we'll see some new enticements later in the campaign.  

Another is offering good value compared to full retail price. At $279, there's no doubt this campaign provided a compelling reason for the homebrew curious among us but didn't want to take a flyer on an $800 home brew machine (the retail price of the first generation Pico). 

Lastly, success begets success. Having done three of these, the company has checked this box. This success has allowed the company to build a big community that continues to grow and support them in each successive campaign. 

We've got the news about the campaign so make sure to check it out

Speaking of crowdfunding, I invited Crowd Cow CEO Ethan Lowry onto the podcast to hear more about the company's crowdfunding for meat platform. If last month's interview with Ethan had you asking more questions about cattle crowdfunding, hopefully this podcast will provide the answers.

There are lots more stories in this week's newsletter, including a CEO change at Mellow, a look at how some companies are trying to reduce the number of kitchen fires and what Samsung's new AI platform Bixby means for the smart kitchen.

If you missed out on our March 31st deadline for Super Early Bird tickets for the Smart Kitchen Summit, don't worry: we still have some great deals. You can get Early Bird tickets and when you apply our discount code NEWSLETTER to get 15% off of any ticket price. Simply use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

If you're a loyal reader of this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Talk to you next week.


The Spoon

Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 04/05/2017 edition:


Podcast: Tipping Cows With Crowd Cow’s Ethan Lowry

By Michael Wolf on Apr 05, 2017 10:28 am
Here’s one thing you probably haven’t tried: crowdfunding a cow. But now you can with Seattle area startup Crowd Cow. The brainchild of former Urban Spoon cofounder Ethan Lowry, Crowd Cow lets backers buy their choice of meat by crowdfunding local farm raised cattle one cow at a time. In this episode, I talk to Ethan about how he […]
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PicoBrew Breaks Kickstarter Record In Food Category

By Michael Wolf on Apr 05, 2017 09:36 am
You do this crowdfunding thing for a while, you start to get the hang of it. Especially when you’re a company like PicoBrew, which has had three successful previous campaigns for its beer brewing appliance products. According to a statement made by the company, this time around they reached their target funding goal in just seven […]
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Sous Vide Startup Mellow Gets New CEO, On Track To Ship This May

By Michael Wolf on Apr 05, 2017 07:05 am
The Spoon has learned that Mellow, a startup that has gained attention for development of a hybrid sous vide appliance with unique features such as a built-in refrigeration and a scale, has a new CEO. Long-time supply chain executive Gary Itenson, who served as the company’s COO for the past year, has stepped into the top spot […]
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Cooking Is The Number One Cause of Home Fires; Innohome Wants To Change That

By Michael Wolf on Apr 04, 2017 04:38 pm
If a house catches fire, there’s a good chance the culprit is a cooking device. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of all home structure fires – 46% – are started by some type of cooking equipment, and while more people die from fires started from cigarettes (stop smoking in bed, people), […]
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Dutch Grocery Delivery Service Picnic Cuts out the Middleman and Possible Profits

By Allen Weiner on Apr 04, 2017 08:16 am
All eyes are on Amsterdam-based grocery-delivery startup Picnic, fresh out of a 100 million euro ($123.5 million dollars) investment from a number of Dutch firms which will allow them to fund a national rollout of their service. The Hague, the third largest city in the Netherlands, will be the newest marquee name added to the […]
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A Look At The New Machine Washable Pico C Keg

By Michael Wolf on Apr 03, 2017 10:59 am
This morning I wrote about PicoBrew’s new Kickstarter campaign and their new lower-priced Pico C homebrew appliance (starting at $279). While much of the focus for PicoBrew in this most recent product launch was reaching a more affordable price for new brewers, the company also focused on making the process of home brewing a little easier. […]
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PicoBrew Debuts All-You-Can-Brew Subscriptions With New Lower-Priced HomeBrew Appliance

By Michael Wolf on Apr 03, 2017 06:00 am
Today PicoBrew announced the latest addition to their connected homebrew appliance lineup, the Pico C, in a newly launched Kickstarter campaign. Alongside the lower-priced entry, the company also is debuting BrewUnlimited, an all-you-can-brew subscription service for $59 a month. The newest Pico is a cost-reduced version of the Pico S, the original Pico model. By offering their […]
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The Cubit Is A Modern Tape Measure That Makes Home Design A Drag & Drop Experience

By Michael Wolf on Apr 02, 2017 06:44 am
Hanging pictures or measuring for simple home decorating tasks can be arduous. Not only is it time consuming to get things exactly right using that pencil and old school tape measure, it’s also hard to visualize how things will look until you have that picture hanging on the wall, which often means there’s a hole or two […]
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Believe It Or Not, We Now Have A Connected Salt Shaker

By Michael Wolf on Apr 01, 2017 11:01 am
Like many people motivated to create products, Bipan Singh found inspiration in words spoken by his child. And just what were the magic words that turned this health executive into a connected home entrepreneur? “Daddy, you’re putting too much salt” said Singh. When Singh heard those words from his daughter as she complained about the scrambled eggs he had made her, he […]
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What Does Samsung’s Bixby Mean For The Smart Kitchen?

By Lauren Knope on Apr 01, 2017 06:58 am
If you follow any tech news, you’ve seen announcements in the past week coming out of Samsung around their Galaxy S8 launch. One of the most intriguing parts of the Samsung event was the news around Bixby, Samsung’s AI assistant and answer to Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant. In some ways, it competes with the […]
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The Weekly Spoon: Housewares Edition - Interviews with Behmor, Somabar, PantryChic, GeniCan, SoBro & More

After walking the floor at last year's Housewares Show in Chicago, I became excited. I was convinced that this industry - like most consumer industries - will witness significant change over the next decade as disruptive new technology ushers in new business models, services and a wave of creative new products. And, based on what I saw on the show floor and heard in my conversations, it felt like we were only in the first or second inning of this shift.

I soon talked to the folks at The International Housewares Association, the industry that produces the International Home and Housewares Show, and shared some ideas for helping them highlight these technologies and to better drive the conversation. Fast forward a year later, and the Housewares Show unveiled new smart home pavilion which I had helped plan and put together. I also worked on programming for the show, which included a talk on the smart kitchen and the keynote panel focused on the disruptive nature of smart home technologies. 

The keynote panel turned out really well; I'd suggest anyone interested in better understanding how these technologies will change your business going forward, have a look. For those who are audio-oriented, stay tuned: we'll also be publishing the audio next few days.

While there I also took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with many of the startups I read and write about to see their products. You can check out a number of those video interviews and articles below, including catch ups with SproutsIO, Somabar, PantryChic, Behmor, Dash Company and more. 

As for Smart Kitchen Summit business, an important reminder: One more week to get Super Early Bird pricing on tickets!  After March 31st, ticket prices go up from $895 to $1,095. Combined with our discount code for newsletter subscribers, if you hurry you can get your SKS17 tix for less than $700!  You can use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or simply go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

As always: if you're enjoying this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Talk to you next week.


Smart Home Tech Will Disrupt The Housewares Industry. Discuss.

By Michael Wolf on Mar 24, 2017 06:48 am
After walking the show floor at last year’s Housewares Show in Chicago, I became pretty excited. As with most consumer industries, I’m convinced the housewares industry will witness significant change over the next decade as disruptive new technology ushers in new business models, services and creative new products that will reshape the entire space.  Based on what I saw […]
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After Years Of Development, PantryChic Smart Dispense System Nears Production

By Michael Wolf on Mar 23, 2017 10:02 am
Like many parents, I encourage my kids to get into the kitchen to try their hand at baking cookies, cupcakes or other pastries every now and then. While the benefits of raising young cooks far exceeds any downsides, one of the few complaints I have about my kids’ culinary exploration is the mess of ingredient bags and measuring […]
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Forget The Fridge: GeniCan Moves Shopping List Smarts To The Garbage Can

By Michael Wolf on Mar 23, 2017 06:26 am
One of the main selling points of a connected refrigerator is it allows a consumer to keep track of their food, manage shopping lists and even order groceries from the fridge itself. But here’s the problem: continuously updating inventory and shopping via your fridge requires a significant behavior change on the part of consumers. Whether […]
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Starbucks Announces In-Car Voice Ordering On Ford SYNC Via Amazon’s Alexa

By Ashley Daigneault on Mar 23, 2017 05:12 am
Starbucks unveils its partnership with Amazon and Ford to bring in-car voice ordering via Alexa.
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The Story of RJ Batts, Fourteen Year Old Inventor Of The Tip Tough

By Michael Wolf on Mar 22, 2017 09:41 am
Not all kitchen innovation has to be high-tech to have a great story. In fact, the tale of fourteen-year-old inventor RJ Batts is one of the cooler stories I heard this week at the Housewares show in Chicago. Standing at his booth among rows of other makers and creators more than twice or thrice his age, RJ told me how his […]
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Martha Stewart + Amazon Partner To Bring You Dinner Tonight

By Ashley Daigneault on Mar 22, 2017 05:56 am
The best part about meal kits is that they take away the need to meal plan and decide what’s for dinner. Each week, a box arrives at your door and gives you 3-5 preplanned dinners with exactly the right ingredients to prepare and cook each. The worst part? The amount of planning it requires to […]
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The Company Behind PancakeBot Brings Us A Crazy Connected Coffee Table

By Michael Wolf on Mar 21, 2017 11:32 am
First they helped take pancake making next-level with the PancakeBot, a pancake robot that helps the cook go beyond those Mickey Mouse and Death Star cakes you made for your kids into the world of pancake selfies. And now, StoreBound, a home product innovation company founded by longtime housewares executive Evan Dash (a recent guest on the Smart […]
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When Food Producers Borrow Techniques From Breweries

By Ashley Daigneault on Mar 21, 2017 10:49 am
The future of food discussion is often focused on ways to make popular food products and ingredients in a sustainable and healthier way. The road to meeting the demand for more natural foods is filled with constraints; a supply chain that can’t always deliver natural ingredients and prices that consumers don’t always want to pay. That’s […]
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Amidst Coffee Makers & Cookware, SproutsIO Talks Personal Produce At Housewares

By Michael Wolf on Mar 21, 2017 05:35 am
Amidst the coffee makers, cookware and bartenderbots in Chicago this week at the International Home and Housewares Show, SproutsIO stood out as the one and only maker of a connected microgarden. The SproutsIO microgarden, which allows an individual to grow vegetables in their home without soil or sunlight, is headed to market this year after a successful […]
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Housewares 2017: Somabar Pushes Robo-Bartender Into Production

By Michael Wolf on Mar 20, 2017 05:19 am
Somabar has started shipping production units of its robot bartender to beta testers.
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The Weekly Spoon for 03/16/17 : 3D Printed Food & Millennials, Vitamix's IoT Evolution, Whirlpool's Connected Microwave

Just a short note today before I head on out to Chicago for the big Housewares Show. 

I definitely had a blast at SXSW, where I got to eat at Franlkin BBQ, meet Chef José Andrés, moderate a fun panel on the future of the kitchen and cooking, and see Panasonic's cool future-kitchen concepts first hand.

If you're going to be in Chicago, I'll be spending much of my time at the Smart Home Pavilion. I'll also be moderating the keynote panel on the smart home and smart kitchen and giving a talk on how the kitchen will be reinvented over the next decade. 

Stop by, say hi and email me if you have any news or products you want me to check out. 

As always, we have great pieces below to catch you up on what's happening in the world of foodtech and the smart kitchen, including a look at how chatbots could be the story of 2017, Whirlpool's new connected (and camera-less) microwave oven, Vitamix's IoT evolution, a look at who is curious about 3D printed food and more. 

Just a reminder on Smart Kitchen Summit: March 31st is the final day for super early bird tickets. You'll want to scoop your's up while they last, and you can do so with a discount code for newsletter readers.You can use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or simply go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

As always: if you're enjoying this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Talk to you next week.


In the 03/16/2017 edition:

Whirlpool Is Launching A Connected Microwave (And No, It Doesn’t Have A Camera)

By Michael Wolf on Mar 15, 2017 11:26 am
It won't spy on you, but you'll be able to talk to it with Alexa.
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Why The Chatbot Interface Might Just Be The Smart Home Story of 2017

By Michael Wolf on Mar 15, 2017 06:16 am
Voice interfaces are so 2016. Not that Alexa and Google’s voice assistant won’t grow a bunch more in 2017, they will. But the reality is the smart home continues to evolve at a rapid clip, and one of the early trends I’ve noticed for 2017 is the emergence of the social messaging chatbot as a natural language […]
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Turning Text Messages Into Machine Language For The Smart Home

By Lauren Knope on Mar 15, 2017 04:51 am
There’s a new race in the smart home – it’s not about who will control your home but rather how. The introduction of voice assistant devices Amazon Echo and Google Home have definitely changed the conversation and the market for how we interact with the tech inside our homes. But if speaking commands to things […]
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Want To Eat Like A Star Quarterback? There’s A Meal Kit For That

By Lauren Knope on Mar 14, 2017 09:10 am
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in general usually elicit one of two reactions: complete fanboy love or abject hatred. But if you’re in the love fan group or you’re just someone who wants to follow the diet plan of a superstar athlete, then meal kit delivery service Purple Carrot has a new product […]
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Who Is Interested in 3D Food Printing? Young People, That’s Who

By Michael Wolf on Mar 13, 2017 11:56 am
3D food printing is still one of those futuristic technologies that most people have yet to experience and many think sounds kinda weird, but with more investment dollars flowing into startups to help us print our food, there’s a good chance many of us might just eat ‘printed’ food in the next few years. We decided to […]
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Vitamix’s Ascent Series Is Focused on Using IoT to Create Memorable Kitchen Experiences

By Allen Weiner on Mar 13, 2017 06:29 am
As the premier name in high-performance kitchen blenders, Cleveland-based Vitamix has consistently shown its ability to stay close to and understand its customer base. The company was among the first to use television infomercials to illustrate its benefits. Much of Vitamix’s brand persona is linked to healthy lifestyles as demonstrated in their series of raw, […]
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Alcohol Brands Turning to Chatbots for Creative Marketing

By Amy Cravens on Mar 11, 2017 09:13 am
It seems chatbots are popping up everywhere in the food and beverage industry, and now they’re finding their way to the liquor cabinet. Chatbots are applications that combine Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to simulate human conversation.  They are an innovative way for marketers to reach out to target audiences and to support purchases. As […]
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The Food Delivery Boom Comes At A Price

By Ashley Daigneault on Mar 10, 2017 07:16 am
Food delivery startups have been all the rage, dominating food tech investment for the last several years. In what has become an extremely crowded market, there are signs that the market is shifting, with companies like Square reportedly looking to sell off its food delivery business Caviar and competitors like Postmates struggling to raise more […]
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Sudden Coffee Looks to Disrupt A $9.9 Billion Market

By Ashley Daigneault on Mar 10, 2017 05:44 am
Instant coffee is not a celebrated food item. It’s cheap and convenient but that’s where the accolades end – which made a perfect challenge for entrepreneurs Kalle Freese and Joshua Zloof to tackle with their new startup. Sudden Coffee launched with the mission to find new ways and technologies that could make instant coffee better. Why? […]
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The Weekly Spoon: Why Whirlpool & Innit Split Up, Juicero/Whole Foods, Virtual Sommeliers

Austin and Chicago, here we come. 

I'll be headed out to SXSW this week to check out the growing foodtech presence and to moderate the only smart kitchen panel at the festival.  The panel, called "The Smart Kitchen: Cooking Better with Technology", will be this Saturday. I'll be joined onstage by Vivian Barad of IDEO and LIsa Fetterman of Nomiku. You can find out more details about that session here.

After that, I'll be heading to Chicago for five busy days at the Housewares show. I'll be giving a talk on the future of the kitchen as well as moderating a keynote panel in the giant Grand Ballroom.  

If you are going to be at either event and want to connect, drop me a line

As usual, we've got some must-reads this week, including a look at why Innit and Whirlpool called it quits, Juicero's Whole Foods rollout, a Q&A with the CEO of cow crowdfunding site Crowd Cow and more. Also make sure to check out my conversation with StoreBound CEO Evan Dash to hear us talk about innovation in the kitchen. You can read all of those stories below. 

And oh yeah: Did I tell you that the Smart Kitchen Summit was named one of the best IoT conferences by Inc Magazine? Well we were, so check it out

Speaking of SKS, we are talking to lots of great folks and can't wait to announce our first round of speakers soon. As a newsletter subscriber, you can use the discount code NEWSLETTER to get 15% off of tickets for SKS17. Now is a great time to buy since we are offering heavily discounted tickets for our Super Early Bird tickets. You can use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or simply go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

Lastly: if you're enjoying this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Talk to you next week.


In the 03/09/2017 edition:

You Can Now Drink Juicero Juice At Whole Foods For $5 A Pop

By Michael Wolf on Mar 09, 2017 07:10 am
If four hundred bucks is still a little steep for you get into the Juicero business, don’t worry: if you live in southern California, you can now head down to the local Whole Foods and throw down some Green Zing for five bucks a glass. The two companies announced this week that Juicero cold-pressed juice […]
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PancakeBots To Cold Brew: Exploring Kitchen Innovation With StoreBound’s Evan Dash (Podcast)

By Michael Wolf on Mar 09, 2017 04:59 am
After spending the first part of his career as a retail executive, Evan Dash decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur and help bring innovative new products to the same store shelves he felt lacked new and interesting ideas. That’s exactly what he’s done with StoreBound, Dash’s product innovation company that discovered the PancakeBot and is […]
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Q&A With Crowd Cow’s Ethan Lowry

By Michael Wolf on Mar 08, 2017 08:37 am
Used to be if you wanted to buy meat directly from a farmer without a middleman, you’d have to go find a farmer to sell you a side of beef.  The only problem is, not many of us have a giant freezer to hold hundred of pounds of meat let alone time to drive out and […]
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Xiaomi Adds Coffee Maker To Its Mi Home Lineup

By Ashley Daigneault on Mar 08, 2017 06:22 am
Xiaomi, the Chinese manufacturer known best for its global smartphone production, is getting further into home appliances with the introduction of a Keurig-like coffee maker. The company announced a crowdfunding campaign for the Scishare Coffee Maker on its platform (funded within hours) to bring a coffee maker with Italian-sourced pump and coffee extraction technology. The machine […]
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DoorDash Adds a B2B View to the On-Demand Home Delivery Market

By Allen Weiner on Mar 07, 2017 09:37 am
DoorDash’s latest TV spot shows a family relaxing in their San Francisco Victorian home when they are suddenly alerted that dinner has arrived. As a micro sized red car pulls up, dad jumps out of his chair, daughter pushes over her toy tea set and Rover makes a beeline for the door. Mom answers the […]
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Ember Is The $150 Coffee Mug You Never Knew You Needed

By Ashley Daigneault on Mar 07, 2017 06:58 am
Every year, a host of new “smart” products launch into the connected ecosphere. We’ve seen connected vibrating pants (yes really) and Wi-Fi diapers and smart water bottles – where does it end? Throwing connectivity into all of our things has led to some pretty dumb “smart” stuff. But then there’s Ember. I have to admit, […]
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Analysis: Why Did Whirlpool & Innit Call It Quits?

By Michael Wolf on Mar 06, 2017 02:35 pm
Last week, news broke that Whirlpool and Innit’s partnership to build connected kitchen products has come to an end. While the news came as a surprise to some, the fact that Whirlpool made a big smart kitchen splash at CES this year without any mention of Innit had us wondering last January about the status […]
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Wine and AI: A Perfect Pairing of Technology and Tradition

By Amy Cravens on Mar 06, 2017 08:53 am
If you have trouble figuring out what is the best wine to pair with tonight’s dinner, a new wave of AI powered virtual sommeliers may be of service.
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Full Transcript: Talking VR, Virtual Eating & Smart Design With Google’s Basheer Tome

By Michael Wolf on Mar 03, 2017 06:52 am
The full transcript of our conversation about VR and food with Google's head of design for VR hardware.
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The Weekly Spoon: Innit Buys Shopwell, Cooking With Facebook Bot, Panasonic's Smart Kitchen, Bonaverde Ships

A few years ago, I uninstalled Facebook on my phone because I was tired of the barrage of notifications that came with the social network app. After all, the social net was already doing all it could to distract me at my desk, so why would I need it distracting me while I was away from it?

But last night, Facebook found its way back onto my Android device in the form of Facebook Messenger. What was the reason to risk more distraction?

Cooking, (un?) naturally. 

In case you didn't know it, Facebook's Messenger bot is the underlying platform beneath ChefSteps' new conversational cooking bot. I had cooked with Alexa, an integration ChefSteps had announced last fall, but I wanted to see what it was look to use my social network to make steak. 

So, was the steak worth having Facebook on my phone? While it was definitely tasty, I'd say (for me at least), not quite yet. It's definitely early for Facebook cooking, and there are many instances where I'd rather just use the Joule app or Alexa. That said, I have to admit I was impressed with the ease and intuitiveness of use an AI bot as a cooking interface and can see it being useful once it matures through more exposure and learning from customers in the field.

You can read my write up of my Steak-by-Facebook experience here, as well as read more about how foodbots are becoming ever more important in the world of food.

And it's not just bots of the virtual variety that are becoming a bigger part of our lives. I caught up with the VP of technology for iRobot to talk about the evolution of home robots, including those in the kitchen, in our most recent episode of the Smart Home Show.

Also, big news last week on the smart kitchen front, with Innit buying Shopwell to extend their reach into grocery stores in an effort to create an end-to-end platform for food and cooking. Read the details here.

We have lots of other great stories at the Spoon, so make sure to check them out below. 

Also, we are getting lots of great speakers for Smart Kitchen Summit and will share them with you soon. As a newsletter subscriber, you can use the discount code NEWSLETTER to get 15% off of tickets for SKS17. Now is a great time to buy since we are offering heavily discounted tickets for our Super Early Bird tickets. You can use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or simply go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

Lastly: if you're enjoying this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Talk to you next week.


P.S I will be at SXSW in a few weeks on a panel about the Smart Kitchen. If you're going make sure to attend. If you'd like to connect while we are there, just DM me via Twitter and we can make arrangements.

In the 03/01/2017 edition:

BeeHex Gets $1 Million Investment To Create 3D Food Printer

By Michael Wolf on Mar 01, 2017 09:53 am
3D food printing has been one of those categories that has wowed folks at pop up restaurants and trade shows, but has yet to attract much in the way of investment dollars. Until now. That’s because BeeHex, a company created when CEO Anjan Contractor won a contract with NASA to develop a pizza printer for space, […]
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I Made Steak With Facebook Messenger. Here’s How It Went

By Michael Wolf on Mar 01, 2017 06:47 am
We know that over half of Echos end up in the kitchen, making Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa a natural interface to help us make food. But what about Facebook Messenger? While we don’t have exact numbers on how many use Facebook’s communication app while in the kitchen, with over a billion downloads of the app in […]
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Chatbots Utilize Advanced Technology to Bring Instant Grub Gratification

By Allen Weiner on Feb 28, 2017 08:49 am
Restaurants, supermarkets and even TV food networks are taking the concept of multichannel marketing to new heights. Using technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), companies ranging from Food Network, Whole Foods, Pizza Hut to Wingstop are using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook Messenger to connect with their customers. Chatbots, […]
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Panasonic To Debut Kitchen Concept For An Aging Population At SXSW

By Michael Wolf on Feb 28, 2017 05:56 am
Panasonic wowed folks at CES this year with their out-of-the-box thinking and futuristic concepts for the kitchen. Now, it looks like they might have more in store for SXSW. That’s because the Japanese consumer electronics conglomerate will be debuting a new kitchen concept designed for seniors at the interactive portion of this year’s big tech, culture […]
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Amazon & Hershey Company Both Experiment With The Future of Grocery Shopping

By Amy Cravens on Feb 27, 2017 05:00 am
Amazon’s done it again.  In their quest to revolutionize grocery procurement, Amazon is once more redefining the grocery experience with Amazon Go. Introduced late last year, Amazon Go is a new kind of grocery store that eliminates the check-out line.  Their “just walk out technology” lets shoppers simply put the goods in their bag and […]
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Full Transcript: Creating A Food Data Layer With Edamam’s Victor Penev

By Michael Wolf on Feb 25, 2017 11:52 am
  I recently caught up with Victor Penev, CEO of Edemam, about his company’s effort to create a data layer for the Internet of Food. You can hear that conversation on the Smart Kitchen Show podcast here, or you can read the full transcript of the conversation below. The conversation has been edited slightly for […]
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Smart Cooking Startup SmartyPans To Appear on CBS Innovation Nation

By Michael Wolf on Feb 24, 2017 12:40 pm
The sister-brother cofounders are appearing with Mo Rocca this weekend to show off their smartpan.
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Three Years After Kickstarter Success, Bonaverde Ships Roast-Grind-Brew Coffee Machine

By Michael Wolf on Feb 24, 2017 10:10 am
The do-everything coffee machine from Bonaverde is finally shipping over three years after Kickstarter success.
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Podcast: Here Come The Robots

By Michael Wolf on Feb 24, 2017 08:49 am
Is it time to get robot insurance? It just might be. One of my predictions for the smart home in 2017 was that robots would become an ever more important part of the smart home. While we aren’t quite upon the era of fully independent humanoid robots, there is no doubt we are beginning to […]
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Analysis: How Postmates Tackles the World of Urban Logistics for Restaurants and Beyond

By Allen Weiner on Feb 24, 2017 06:29 am
Since launching in late 2014, San Francisco-based Postmates has had its own grand vision. This plan includes disrupting the way products get from any restaurant or store to their ultimate destination. Competing in a SRO category, which includes UberEats, Amazon, Grubhub, and specialty delivery companies, such as Drizly, requires more than a fleet of drivers with […]
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Smart Kitchen Summit Named A Top IoT Conference By Inc Magazine

Horn tooting time.

We love kudos as much as the next conference, so we were pretty excited to read the Smart Kitchen Summit was named by Inc Magazine as one of the top Internet of Things conferences. Not only that, it was the only food-related technology conference on the list.

Written by Inc contributor Andrew Thomas, the article had this to say about SKS:

"The Smart Kitchen is a relatively new, yet very hot (no pun intended), segment of the Smart Home. Michael Wolf, market analyst and host of The Smart Home Show podcast, created this conference to gather the brightest entrepreneurs, leaders and companies involved in bringing Smart Home technology to your kitchen. The Smart Kitchen Summit is a "can't miss" if you're interested in how the culinary experience will forever change thanks to IoT."

Thanks for the honor Andrew!

The Weekly Spoon for February 22nd: Flavor as a Technology, ChefSteps Meat Marketplace, KitchenBowl/ABC, FeedMe

We publish a weekly newsletter at The Spoon. You can subscribe here and see back-issues here. Starting this week, we will also begin publishing the weekly newsletter here on the SKS blog. 

One thing I've learned about having a conference about innovation in food and cooking is that you learn a whole lot just by talking to people who come to your event.

One of those people is Mikel Cirkus. I met Mikel at the startup showcase the first night of SKS 2016, and when he told me he travelled the world to keep on top of global flavor trends for Firmenich, the world's largest privately own flavor and fragrance company, I thought that sounded like maybe the coolest job ever created.

The more I talked to Mikel, the more I became fascinated with the idea of how technology is impacting flavor trends around the world. 

A few things became evident pretty quickly based on these conversations:

  • Flavor trends are accelerating with modern technology. What may be an inventive treat created by someone in a mom and pop shop in Dublin could be next year's global flavor trend as ideas and flavors travel at lightning speed
  • New technologies in the home are going to unlock new ways to create and enhance flavors. New cooking, delivery and food creation technologies are going to offer new opportunities for packaged food, food delivery and fresh food companies in the home to create exciting new flavors in their products.
  • Lastly, flavor is in many ways a form of technology. Just as communication or transportation is a technology that has witnessed large advances over the past many decades, we're in an era where science is advancing the technology of taste to create newer flavors faster and faster. 

I sat down with Mikel and R. Matthew Walter to discuss this new world of taste in the most recent episode of the Smart Kitchen Show.  I learned a whole lot and hope you do too. 

We have lots of other great new stories at The Spoon, including ChefSteps' new effort to create an online marketplace to connect consumers with cattle ranchers, the story of KitchenBowl's acquisition by cooking studio giant ABC, the new food delivery aggregator FeedMe and much more. 

Also, remember you can use the discount code NEWSLETTER to get 15% off of tickets for SKS17. Now is a great time to buy since we are offering heavily discounted tickets for our Super Early Bird tickets. You can use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or simply go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

Talk to you next week.


P.S. If someone forwarded this newsletter, why don't you subscribe yourself to get the once-a-week must-read update on the future of food, cooking & the kitchen?

Updates from

The Spoon

Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 02/22/2017 edition:

Former HBO and Porch Execs Create FeedMe, An Aggregator For Food Delivery

By Ashley Daigneault on Feb 22, 2017 06:48 am
Jason Allen is no stranger to the concept of “website-aggregator” as a business model. As the former CTO of, Allen was hired in 2014 to help the home professional marketplace pair its service of helping homeowners find people to help them with work around the house with Houzz-like portfolios to show off what’s possible in […]
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Podcast: Is Flavor a Technology?

By Michael Wolf on Feb 21, 2017 12:58 pm
Is flavor a technology. Yes.
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June Adds Multiple Pairing As More Kitchen Devices Get Over The Air Updates

By Michael Wolf on Feb 21, 2017 06:30 am
As kitchen devices become more connected, over-the-air updates will become more commonplace.
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Why Amazon Needs Automation To Drive Retail Profit

By Ashley Daigneault on Feb 21, 2017 05:39 am
Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world, with total value at the end of 2016 surpassing the value of other U.S. retail giants like Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Target, Sears, Macy’s and Nordstrom’s combined. So at $355.9 billion market value, it’s a little surprising to see Amazon continue to post slim profit margins on its […]
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A Bittersweet Ending And New Beginning For KitchenBowl’s Waliany

By Michael Wolf on Feb 20, 2017 10:46 am
Last fall when I reached out to KitchenBowl founder Ryan Waliany about speaking at the Smart Kitchen Summit, he told me he was in the process of acquisition talks for his company, and because of the likelihood that he would be in the middle at the deal at the time, he would have to decline. […]
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Does The Shape Of Your Spoon Impact Taste? Apparently, Yes.

By Ashley Daigneault on Feb 20, 2017 08:17 am
Learn how two researchers are using innovative design concepts - and a spoon - to change our perception of a food's taste.
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ChefSteps Working On Marketplace To Connect Cattle Ranchers With Consumers

By Michael Wolf on Feb 20, 2017 04:00 am
Just last week, ChefSteps announced the rollout of a new Facebook Messenger bot to assist users of its Joule sous vide cooker in the process of making a meal. This just a few months after adding an Alexa skill for the Joule, and we know from conversations with the company they have plans to create a platform that […]
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Inirv Retrofit Kitchen Kickstarter Surpasses Goal

By Ashley Daigneault on Feb 17, 2017 05:49 am
The 2016 Smart Kitchen Summit’s startup showcase was home to many exciting new companies showing off connected and high-tech devices for kitchens of the future. One of those companies, Inirv, had a safety system designed for stoves that highlighted the importance of retrofit solutions in the smart home. While many are building connectivity and smarts […]
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IoT Innovator Smallhold Sees Minifarms as Big Business

By Allen Weiner on Feb 17, 2017 05:48 am
Believe it or not, those mushrooms you had in your go-to restaurant’s nightly pasta special were grown in the back, between the walk-in fridge and the spice cabinet. Home grow systems are the buzz, keeping in mind that not everyone is blessed with a green thumb or the time and energy to maintain an indoor […]
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Research: People Prefer Grocery Stores To Automated Delivery…For Now

By Amy Cravens on Feb 16, 2017 05:00 am
You know those time when you’re standing at the fridge,  pulling out the things to prepare dinner, and realize you’re missing a key ingredient? Frustrating, right? But here’s the thing: nowadays all this could have been avoided with a little planning and the automated delivery services now available. And make no mistake: grocery delivery services […]
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