July 6, 2014

I caught part of Back to the Future II the other day and was intrigued, because in the 1989 movie Doc and Marty are transported to the year 2015 with all of its super 21st century marvels. People are zipping around in flying cars, which seems to be a running theme in science fiction films since the 1950s. Everybody figured that by 2015, there’d be flying cars for sure.

But we’ve only got six months to go and if we’re going to be climbing into flying cars by January, the auto industry has been keeping it a pretty good secret.

Interestingly, Back to the Future writers didn’t envision cell phones or iPads — or the development of 3D printers that can whip up ready-to-eat meals with the push of a button.

That is apparently on the horizon for 2015, when the first Foodini printer will be ready to launch. The gadget is hooked up to the Internet, and you just find the recipe you want and it makes it with ingredients from food capsules. You put your own ingredients in, but the manufacturer, Natural Machines, hopes to have pre-made food capsules you can buy at the store and pop into the Foodini when you get ready to make your meal.

So instead of having all of these bulky packages of meat and vegetables you can just stack up the capsules and drop them into the Foodini when needed, like cartridges in an inkjet.

In the future this should also eliminate all the chopping, the pre-baking, the marinating, and the mixing. It will probably put food TV out of business, and when restaurants buy commercial-sized 3D food printers it will eliminate the need for chefs, short-order cooks, and sauciers.

This month’s issue of the AARP Bulletin says 3D food printing is just what the doctor ordered for the older generation, too. It says a Dutch company has developed a printer that uses pureed food which is fed into ink-jets. The printer squirts out the ingredients using a secret substance that reconstitutes them so that they smell and taste like the real thing.

But it has “a life-saving benefit,” Steve Mencher writes in the newsletter. “The food melts in the mouth, perfect for the estimated 20 percent of adults over age 50 who have difficulty swallowing. German nursing home residents are getting the first taste.”

Es ist angerichtet, Leute. Komme und nimm es!

So, really, when you think about it, which would you rather have — a 3D food printer or a flying car?

Well OK, yeah. I’d take the flying car, too.

* * *

Looking for a little mindless entertainment over the weekend, I plunked down some dough to see the season’s silliest summer movie — Tammy. Oscar material it is not, but I was drawn in by the cast, which includes potty-mouthed Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates and Dan Aykroyd. It was written by McCarthy and her hubby, Ben Falcone and produced by them along with Will Ferrell.

My mistake was hoping for something Farrelly-Brothers-like.

I can understand a swing and a miss, but I found parts of the movie annoying. For example at one point Tammy is getting ready to burn the car she used in a hold-up of a fast food restaurant. She starts dumping gas on it and looks up and says: “$4 a gallon … thanks, Obamacare!”

Sure, nice to have a newsy reference in a low-grade comedy, but what’s the connection?

Also, Dan Aykroyd is in the movie for like 30 seconds. Plunk the dough down at your own risk.