Food+Tech Fail Friday Event: The Rundown

Last Thursday, I swung by Food+Tech’s Fail Friday Event. To those of you who don’t know Food+Tech, they’re one of the thought leaders in all things, food, technology and innovation.

This happened was the 6th installment of Fail Friday, which took place at ForceBrand’s Tribeca HQ. I had to run before the speakers came on, but I did have a chance to sample some of the free food, which, let’s be honest, is the real reason anyone goes to these events.

Jalapa Jar: 6.25/10

Small batch salsa made from roasting and blending fresh vegetables, and immediately jarring them to preserve the maximum flavor. Props for the brilliant idea of going beyond salsa to develop their own line of Austin-style breakfast tacos-a huge hit at the event which was otherwise dominated by booze and snacks.

Too busy stuffing tacos to pose. They have their priorities straight, I respect it.

Taste: 7/10 — I can handle pretty high on the scoville scale but prefer the kind of sauces that don’t compromise flavor for heat factor (almost like they have something to prove-“we get it, you’re spicy”). This was right down my alley.

Health: 9/10 — Given that its only ingredients are vegetables, garlic, vinegar, salt and some spices, it seems pretty safe to assume you can’t go wrong here from a health standpoint.

Innovation: 1/10 — Nothing new here-if anything, its most differentiating feature is that it’s as basic as possible-and that’s why we love it.

Value: 8/10 — At $10 per jar, it’s pretty good value considering you’re getting tasty, fresh ingredients with no preservatives.

Cake in a Crate: 6/10

Self-described as, “Plated for Baking,” with Cake in a Crate, you shop online for a finished dessert and they send you kits packed with all of the pre-measured ingredients needed to bring your plant-based creation to life. At the event, they featured two flavors of mini-cupcakes (chocolate and vanilla?) with toppings like Coconut Cream, Maple Syrup, chocolate nibs and assorted nuts. I had to make sure I didn’t miss any combinations so I must have tried about 15 cupcakes?

You’ve got to love that little box.

Taste: 7/10 — While gluten-free, dairy-free and refined-sugar free, they were shockingly not taste-free. You get some of that plant-based “healthy” flavor, but you also get a soft, almost nutty texture with a good balance of sweet and savory that makes them strangely addicting, especially with the toppings.

Health: 4/10 — Just because there are plants involved, it doesn’t mean this is healthy. It can’t, right?? These are still meant to be treats, and treats should not be healthy.

Innovation: 6/10 — It’s not a game changer but it’s a cool idea. They have great branding and I imagine it would be particularly popular among mommy bloggers, health-minded foodies and guys that are looking to crush their 3rd date.

Value: 7/10 — The cakes range from $30 — $38 (including shipping), which feels like a fair price considering you’re getting to use fancy ingredients like Coconut sugar which I didn’t even know existed.

Barnana: 4.5/10

Tiny pieces of dehydrated banana coated in everything from coffee to peanut butter. Don’t knock it until you try it-these high-potassium little bites are 100% natural and packed with essential vitamins making them ideal for workout recovery.

See those light brown nuggets? That the peanut butter flavor. They were gone about 8 seconds after this picture was taken.

Taste: 6/10 — These little guys are pretty fucking tasty. Actually, really just the peanut butter, because you could pair PB with pretty much anything and make it taste good. Peanut Butter really is the ultimate wingman.

Health: 5/10 — While full of natural ingredients and packed with potassium, at 20+ grams of sugar and 160 calories per serving (6 little bites), it would be misleading to call these flat-out healthy. I would say it’s contextually healthy-ideal for post workout (if health is what you’re about, go for a regular banana).

Innovation: 5/10 — There’s a nice social good story behind the company, which hopes to eliminate food waste on organic farms by “recycling” the 56% of bananas deemed too imperfect for our pristine grocery stores. Fighting for the underdog bananas? Now that’s a cause I can get behind.

Value: 2/10 — At $12 for a pack of 3 servings, it felt a little pricey given a banana (scuffed or not) goes for .50 cents at my deli.

Spread MMMs: 3.75/10

Small batch, artisanal tapenade, handmade in NYC. They were served on little crackers and vegetables, and while tasty enough, nothing about it blew my mind. It feels as if rather than innovating an existing product, the company is kind of just riding the coattails of tapenade.

One tapenade, three options: cherry tomatoes, carrots or crackers with mayo for the more adventurous.

Taste: 5/10 — Don’t get me wrong, it was fine olive tapenade, but it was just that…olive tapenade. Didn’t taste anything outside of the ordinary, for better or for worse.

Health: 7/10 — Made with high quality ingredients like Moroccan black olives, extra virgin olive oil and natural spices, it’s certainly better than processed condiments. However, like any tapenade, it’s densely packed with nutrients and calories and it’s easy to go overboard.

Intangibles: 0/10 — Nothing new here.

Price: 3/10 — At $15 per jar, this felt somewhat overpriced when compared to the other dozens of <$10 alternatives I found at Whole Foods.

PS: I’d like to take a moment to call out the Force Brands employee fridge, which is stocked with not only Cold Brew, but several types of Sriracha, and Sriracha-inspired condiments.

MVP of the event. Bravo.
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