The List of Things I Want (But Need Like a Chocolate Teapot) IPosted: 16 February 2011
Is it just me, or are we far too easily charmed by silly gimmicks, toys and novelty products?
The other day I discovered a shop in Newcastle city centre which sells (vastly overpriced) items, of which the greatest value to the world could be described as ‘cute factor’; like the Matryoshka Stacked Measuring Spoons or the Mobile Pocket IQ Test, or perhaps the Spinning Petals Flower Fan Which In Fact Doesn’t Cool You Down At All.
Nevertheless, the very fact I stayed inside the shop long enough to gawk at these things persuaded me to dedicate the first of a series of posts to the bizarre novelties which companies come up with to part us with our cash.
1. Popin’ Cookin’ – “Intellectual Educational Candy”
Invented by the Japanese (who else?), Popin’ Cookin’ is a range of confectionery products which you can make yourself! By squirting various sugar solutions into a plastic tray and assembling by hand, you too can choose from four varieties to make your own miniature pizza, spaghetti, pie, ice cream or even sushi sweets.
Believe it or not, this is marketed as a creative educational tool to get Japanese children interested in healthy cooking at an early age. The makers boast about the use of natural colourants, such as red cabbage, which changes colour when exposed to a difference in ph levels (such as being mixed in water); though it could be argued that making rice, salmon and nori out of extremely UNhealthy sugary ingredients defeats the purpose.
However, the sheer novelty of seeing drops of sugar solution turn into tiny jelly fish roe has got to be one of the most pointlessly cool things I have seen. Ever.
Though in all reality, I wonder if Popin’ Cookin’ is a direct relative of the strangely fascinating toy series called Konapun, also from Japan. Konapun comes complete with a mini kitchen and tiny containers and utensils to make the various ‘dishes’, of which there are enough varieties to make the mind boggle. Ever wanted to make your own mini plate of curry and rice, donuts, spaghetti, burgers, crepes, pizza, sushi, omelette or even a bento [弁当] (Japanese boxed lunch)? You can do this with Konapun.
There are many videos on Youtube exhibiting the sheer creativity of this amazing toy. It’s somehow mesmerising watching an anonymous pair of hands make tiny little pieces of fried fish and then drop them into a tiny fish frier; which actually makes sizzling sounds due to a chemical reaction between the clay ‘fish’ and liquid ‘oil’.
I really, really wish we’d had this toy when I was younger. But the sad thing about Konapun is, you can’t keep the miniature plates of food you create as the clay substance rots over time. Just like real curry would if you left it out on a bedroom shelf, I imagine. But here is where the similarity to real food ends; you can’t eat it either. What a shame!