Food Alarm Clocks

Food Alarm Clocks

Since global 24-hour activity has screwed up our circadian rhythms, we are ever more dependent on external stimuli to tell us when it’s time to do something. We might entertain the thought of three meals a day but all the noshing in between puts our stomachs off a regular feeding schedule. We used to go to sleep at sundown, now we stay up all hours watching cable and live streaming or fall into bed the minute we get home from a jam-packed-traffic commute. And waking up? This is when we really need help.

Even before electricity, roosters just weren’t up to the job. They couldn’t be set to crow at a given time and they had no snooze function. The earliest alarm clocks dating around the 1500s were probably miniature mechanical copies of the town hall clock with correspondingly-sized chimes. But why settle for some old bells-and-whistles when there are so many imaginative ways to wake up a human being?

This creative trend in alarm clocks got off to a roaring start with the Industrial Revolution and has never stopped since. There are clocks that electrocute us awake, throw water in our faces, threaten to shred our credit cards if we don’t get up now, and even unceremoniously just toss us out of bed. And the latest designs have harnessed one of our basic survival instincts – to eat.

Bacon seems to be the favorite food to wake up to so it’s no wonder that the sight, sound, and smell of that cured meat features in two of these food alarms. In the case of the Wake n’ Bacon, real strips of bacon are used. In 2009, Matty Sallin and friends designed this clock that actually heats up the rashers. The clock itself is a simple wooden box with a pair of wood triangles (ears) on top, a couple of holes in front (eyes) above a wooden disk with another couple of holes (snout) to suggest the pre-baconed animal. There’s a digital face in front and some dials at the back. At the side is a drawer with a metal liner that shuts into a cubby-hole with halogen bulbs. Before bedtime, a few strips of pre-cooked bacon are put into the drawer and the alarm is set. Four minutes before it goes off, the halogen bulbs heat up the bacon and the Wake n’ Bacon fills the room with that enticing aroma to wake you up. You can also eat the meat but it seems like a let-down to eat reheated bacon after such a delicious start to the day.

There is no snooze function as such, but if you wait five minutes, the smell of burning bacon will rouse you. Five more minutes later, the smell of burning wooden clock will surely get you out of bed. This is probably why, despite all the hype on the Internet, the Shake n’ Bacon has yet to reach commercial production. However, several sites have DIY instructions to make your own.

For the technophile, the Oscar Mayer Company is trying out its new promotional tool in conjunction with the iPhone. No animal products are used. The purveyor of cold cuts, cured meats, and deli products hopefully wants the public to think of Oscar Mayer when they smell bacon. You plug a small dongle-like gadget into the headphone jack of your phone (or iPad), download a free iPhone app called Wake Up & Smell the Bacon, and set your phone’s alarm. At the right time, the app plays a video of cooking bacon with the enticing sizzling sound and a warm voice-over extolling its meaty goodness, and the gadget sprays bacon scent into the room.

So far, the product is still in beta-testing and no word when the app will be available for Android or Windows. The rumor is you can get a kit by applying to the Oscar Meyer website for either a sweepstakes ticket or as a beta-tester.

Some of us would just rather have a liquid caffeine boost than anything solid to start the day. The Barisieur, a project of industrial designer Joshua Renouf, wakes you up with the smell of freshly-brewed coffee and an actual cup of the stuff.

By some ingenious method the Barisieur “eases the user into the day with the subtle movement of stainless steel ball bearings that boil water through induction heating”. How the ball bearings do this is too subtle to describe but the water drips over the coffee grounds into the waiting cup. There are even storage slots for sugar, extra grounds, and cooling milk.

A glass-and-chrome alchemical apparatus sitting on a faux wood base, the Barisieur is certainly decorative and an excellent conversation piece. It looks equally good as an appliance on a bed table or a modern objet d’art gracing a CEO’s desk, much like the popular Newton’s Cradle. The whole thing is so posh, so chic that a silver tray, a silver teaspoon, and a linen napkin should be included to serve the coffee. And while you’re at it, you might as well be in silk pajamas and dressing gown.

This product is still in the works but you can check it out on Joshua Renouf’s website. He has other nifty stuff to look at, like the Ally Lamp and his prize-winning packaging design for Nestle’s Smarties.

Which sparks another idea for the Pantry – toys that deliver food.

Written by y Bettina Muñoz

Illustration By Sabine Belofsky

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