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Self-Heating Coffee Cans Recalled 208

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the hot-cup-of-joe dept.
Old Man Kensey writes "Apparently those nifty Wolfgang Puck self-heating latte cans, introduced with such fanfare last year, have proven to be buggy -- cans have been reported failing to heat adequately or, more disturbingly, exploding and melting through the packaging. A recall has been announced -- here's hoping the flaws can be 'patched' soon."
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Self-Heating Coffee Cans Recalled

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  • I've just had a look at the official How It Works [wpgourmetlattes.com] (wmv, bleh) video on Wolfgang Puck's site - and there's no mention in the (surprisingly good) explanation that the cans may explode (funny that).

    Also, check out this guy's dissection [traffictrak.com] of a used can.
  • Honestly (Score:5, Funny)

    by Monkeys!!! (831558) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:58AM (#15269034) Homepage
    I've heard of starting the day with a bang but this is rediculous.
    • It works (Score:5, Funny)

      by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:37AM (#15269129)
      I've heard of starting the day with a bang but this is rediculous.

      Exploding coffee: Guaranteed to wake your ass UP!
      • Re:It works (Score:5, Funny)

        by Odin's Raven (145278) on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:56AM (#15269178)
        Exploding coffee: Guaranteed to wake your ass UP!

        Personally, I find coffee is more effective when applied to the other end of the gastrointestinal tract, but to each their own. ;-)

        • Re:It works (Score:5, Funny)

          by Spokehedz (599285) on Friday May 05, 2006 @09:31AM (#15269531)
          caffeine can be absorbed through the lower GI tract, as well as Alcohol and other nutrients. It's where the old joke...

          ****

          A patient who was being fed rectally had a birthday when he was in the hospital, and the nurse decided to give him a treat on his birthday. She hooked up some icecream to his feeding tube and left the patient. A couple of minutes later, she heard screaming and groaning coming down the hall. Knowing what it undoubtedly must be, she rushed in and started to apologize profusely.

          "I'm so sorry! Is it too cold?"

          "NO! I HATE RUM RAISIN!"

          ****

          Comes from. Of course, Ice cream cannot be tasted through the rectum--it is merely a joke. But the surface area of the rectum is much greater than that of the stomach, which allows the absorption of said chemicals/liquids to be absorbed MUCH quicker. Much like the vaporized alcohol that's beginning to show up in some yuppie-fied bars as-of-late that you simply inhale and get blitzed for about an hour.

          But the idea of rectal feeding has been pretty much removed with the advent of modern intravenous methods. I've heard that unless your going to be doing some physical work, you can actually get all your required nutrients through an IV. I'm thinking 'heads in jars' are in store for some of us.
          • But the idea of rectal feeding has been pretty much removed with the advent of modern intravenous methods. I've heard that unless your going to be doing some physical work, you can actually get all your required nutrients through an IV. I'm thinking 'heads in jars' are in store for some of us.

            Actually, as scary as it sounds... I heard a first hand account of getting drunk with red wine via the rectum. Person claims that the buzz you get is much better and less pone to upset stomach and hang over.

            However, I
          • Re:It works (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ozmanjusri (601766)
            Much like the vaporized alcohol that's beginning to show up in some yuppie-fied bars as-of-late that you simply inhale and get blitzed for about an hour.

            It's not a recent thing, though the yuppies may only recently be catching on. Back in the late '80s in the mining towns of Wetstern Australia, we had a drink called a Vapour Lock.

            It was a shot glass of Sambucca which was lit, allowed to burn for about 10 seconds, then extinguished with the palm of your hand or buttocks of your girlfriend. Once the flame

        • Personally, I find coffee is more effective when applied to the other end of the gastrointestinal tract, but to each their own. ;-)

          Hey, if somebody poured hot coffee in my ass, I'd sure as hell wake up alot faster than if I just drank it, but as you said, each to their own.

      • What a great day. Stand in line at the airport. Coffee explodes on me. Then I find out there are SNAKES ON THE PLANE!

        Now I'm pissed off, have 2nd degree burns and calcium oxide all over my hands, and the poison is making its way up my leg. Geez, some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

        -Eric

        • And if it did explode while in the airport, I'm sure you'd be having a nice meeting with airport security and the local police.

          I'd just hope anyone in this situation wouldn't be subject to the cavity search...

    • Madison Avenue Created Trendoid Chef's get-rich-even-quicker scheme that targets Gadget-Fetishist too-cool-for-the-room Latte Drinkers results in blowing up of the latter and great embarrassment and monetary loss to the former?

      I'll check, sure, but I don't think it gets any better than that...
  • by ProppaT (557551) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:59AM (#15269035) Homepage
    I remember having a sample of one of these in Target around hurricane season. They were trying to pass them off as a good way to get a hot cup of coffee when and if the power went out. I probabbly would have bought a few, but then they proceeded to give me a sample. This is, by far, the most disgusting "coffee" drink I've ever had, and this come from someone who's been known to suck on plugs of grounds like chewing tobacco when there's no hot water around...
    • Not only that, the can is a disgusting waste of material that just ends up in landfills.

      If I need my coffee on the go, I'll stick with room temperature Starbucks Doubleshots.
      • Not only that, the can is a disgusting waste of material that just ends up in landfills.

        If I need my coffee on the go, I'll stick with room temperature Starbucks Doubleshots.


        Where do you think your starbucks cups end up? In landfill too.

        Sure, it doesn't generate as much, but god there's a lot of litter around starbucks stores. (and its a pity starbucks don't recycle more too)
        • didn't starbucks have a thing where you could bring your own mug? It sure sounds like something they do considering their clientelle...
        • Yes, but even the worst Starbucks pollution doesn't include Calcium Oxide in any concentration. And the Double Shots are all aluminum, so if you have community recycling, you can put it there. I don't think there's a way to reclaim the materials in the self-heating coffee.
          • Yes, but even the worst Starbucks pollution doesn't include Calcium Oxide in any concentration. And the Double Shots are all aluminum, so if you have community recycling, you can put it there. I don't think there's a way to reclaim the materials in the self-heating coffee.

            Calcium oxide is just lime - its not particularly bad for the environment. I thought you were objecting to the large quantities of plastic in the can.

            A more enviornmentally (and wallet) friendly idea is to just buy a thermos and fill it wi
            • Totally agree, but to say that the Starbucks can is worse for the environment than these canisters is itching for a fight. :)

              That said, I completely agree with the thermos idea. My wife bought me an Eddie Bauer branded thermos (can't remember the original manufacturer's name, although it's on the bottom of the thermos), and it works better than expected. Hot coffee stays hot for a ridiculous amount of time. And it's washable / reusable.
        • The big issue is the amount of waste generated. The self-heating coffee is about 50% packaging. A normal cup is maybe 5% packaging (which is already very wasteful). CaO is non-toxic, but it is packaged in plenty of plastic and it still has to be mined and then landfilled.

          And an alternative already exists ... Dewar flasks. Coffee put into one of those will stay hot all day and it's perfectly reusable.
          • "And an alternative already exists ... Dewar flasks. Coffee put into one of those will stay hot all day and it's perfectly reusable."

            I call bullshit. Any commercial Dewar flask will keep coffee hot for only a couple hours. The really high end ones my keep it hot for a day, but I'm willing to bet that they get broken too easily (glass liner) in the hands of a regular joe.

            As a note of where I'm coming from: I play with LN2 and other cryo liquids, so if containing heat is different than protecting a liquid f
        • My Starbucks takeout cups end up in the recycling bin at home. :)
    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:13AM (#15269233)
      This is, by far, the most disgusting "coffee" drink I've ever had, and this come from someone who's been known to suck on plugs of grounds like chewing tobacco when there's no hot water around...

      There's a reason for this. It's called aspartame . I bought a 4 pack of the Wolfgang Puck coffee when it came out last year. I had no problems with any of the cans, they all worked fine. However, it wasn't until I got home with my purchase that I looked at the ingredients list and saw aspartame as an ingredient. I don't know why so many beverage manufacturers refuse to accept the fact that the vast majority of consumers despise the taste of this artificial "sweetener".

      There probably are a few sick individuals who actually like the taste, but I've talked to people who drank diet drinks regularly and almost all of them told me that they didn't like the taste of aspartame, but put up with it to get a reduced calorie beverage. I don't think the beverage industry has ever really understood that
      tolerate != like
      Besides, lattes are not meant to be diet drinks anyway. It seems to me to be contradictory to make a latte and then make it a diet drink.
      • I actually know people who think diet coke tastes okay.. I like coke and cherry coke, but the diet versions are just horrible.. really dont get the point, I'd rather just drink water (and I do for the most part)
        • I generally prefer the diet versions of softdrinks now b/c I'm used to them not being so sweet. If they had normal versions that were just less sweet, I would get those instead of the diet ones.

          BTW, Coke Zero is probably the closest thing to a normal flavor diet soft drink I've had. But, like most of the sugar substitutes it has a bit of an aftertaste.
        • There's millions of people over the pond who think Japanese desserts are sweet, and who think American desserts are unpleasantly too sweet.

          Sweetness is something that's relative, really, and one does get used to diet sodas. I personally think that diet Coke tastes great, and that Japanese desserts are an abomination that aren't sweet in the slightest, but that's just me.

          • Haven't tried any Japanese deserts that I know of. Strangely enough I've liked diet coke in the past if I mix it with water. It was actually a Texan and an Australian that recently I heard saying how they liked Diet Coke. No accounting for taste ;)
        • Well, it's not so much that I think aspartame is ok, it's just that I dislike high fructose corn syrup just as much. For some reason it tastes heavy and too sweet. Real sugar Coke wins hands down, though.

          Ever done a Coke tasting? With Cokes from around the world? They're different. One can get Mexican Coke with real sugar from Hispanic markets.
      • There probably are a few sick individuals who actually like the taste, but I've talked to people who drank diet drinks regularly and almost all of them told me that they didn't like the taste of aspartame, but put up with it to get a reduced calorie beverage.

        That and the brain diseases. Mmm, brain diseases [wikipedia.org].
      • I've talked to people who drank diet drinks regularly and almost all of them told me that they didn't like the taste of aspartame, but put up with it to get a reduced calorie beverage.

        Those of us old enough to remember saccharine as the 'main' non-sugar sweetener can tell you how much of an improvement aspartame ("NutriSweet") really is. Perhaps I'm more sensitive to it, but I've always found saccharine to be horrendously bitter (not sweet). Aspartame is definitely a sweet taste, but does have a bit of

        • Could be because of the sceptics [holisticmed.com] of sucralose.
          Nah, who am I kidding, just look at the wikipedia article for aspartame [wikipedia.org]...
          • Every time a new artificial sweetener enters the market there are outcries about public safety. Sucralose ("Splenda") is still much better than others. Yeah, ok so they use Chlorine in making it -- so what? Your basic table salt has chlorine. I use chlorine in my pool. That in and of itself doesn't make me run screaming in terror.

            I'd certainly much rather have Splenda than Aspartame in my products. I think the biggest problem facing Splenda is the (warranted) public distrust of the chemicals industry

            • You'd much rather have splenda than aspartame. To me, that's like saying you'd rather have skin cancer than lung cancer ;-)
              I avoid artificial sweeteners, all of them. I am not fanatic about it, I can drink an artificially sweetened soft drink if there are no others and I feel like one.
              Check out some of the links returned by googling for sucralose [google.com]. One of them (possibly more), like this one [mercola.com] contain user testimonials (if asked for email just enter webmaster@mercola.com). Interesting stuff. Dr. Mercola has a p
  • by 6Yankee (597075) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:59AM (#15269037)
    Your hands would be Pucked!
    • Hello?

      Wolfgang Puck self-heating latte cans exploding

      Your hands would be Pucked

      -1 Offtopic? Clearly someone very special has mod points today. And I thought it was just the metamoderation that sucked.
  • Japan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:02AM (#15269042) Homepage
    Haven't self-heating cans been used in Japan for years now? Why not just use the same design as there?
    • Re:Japan (Score:5, Informative)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:10AM (#15269059) Homepage Journal
      Haven't self-heating cans been used in Japan for years now?

      Yup, and a quick look at this wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] shows that they've been around everywhere for over 100 years

      Why not just use the same design as there?

      The design is pretty old & pretty standard - the problem is almost certainly poor quality control (Brandsource trying to be cheap). Presumably they spent too much money buying the rights to Wolfgang's name to spend money on the production process.
    • Re:Japan (Score:2, Informative)

      Yes, and they also have canned drinks machines that are heated, so the can comes out hot - and thus the contents are as well.

      Which was very handy on a cold day in Nikko station. Hot coffee and a hand warmer in one!

      --
      silas
    • The "design" is just old fashioned convection heating. These seem to be more portable, though if you are never far away from a vending machine it doesn't matter much.
    • by hyfe (641811)
      Haven't self-heating cans been used in Japan for years now? Why not just use the same design as there?

      Over here in Europe, I've several times had the pleasure of introducing Americans to waiter-boilers (self-heating cans). Not one of them had seen one before.. which is pretty amazing considering how usefull they are, and how much useless machinery Americans seem to fill up their kitchens with :)

      • Your self-heating cans aren't self-heating.

        You have to plug them into an electrical outlet. The electricity heats the can.

        • Isn't that just an electic kettle at that point? What's the big hoopla about a "self heating can"?
          • electric kettles are rare in the US. They're ubiquitous in Europe. This article is about self-heating cans, but apparently someone got confused and thought self-heating can == electric kettle.

            I was trying to straighten things out, but that'll never happen again.

            I've made things much worse!

            • They're far from unheard of though. Most people don't bother because they have a regular kettle and a stove already. It's not like there's time competition on a stove.

              Also, in the US if you're just heating up a cup of water, most people will use the Microwave instead. It's not like you really need a special piece of equipment to heat up water.
  • by fhmiv (740648) on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:06AM (#15269050) Homepage
    I don't like my coffee very sweet, so Wolfgang and Starbuck's pre-packaged coffee beverages, cold or hot, don't appeal to me.
    I did try a few of Puck's self-heating latte beverages when they first came to satisfy my curiosity. One of the pack of four failed to heat, but luckily for me, none of them exploded or meltied their packaging.
    It's spiffy to be able to heat your own coffee in such a small package, but when you seal up pre-mixed coffee in a can or a more complicated contraption like this one, you lose one of coffee's primary advantages as a beverage --- it is an excellent platform for customization.

    I'd rather go without than drink a coffee beverage brewed or mixed to appeal to some marketeer's average consumer taste buds. If I wanted a sweet, pre-mixed beverage, I'd drink a soda.

    • Here's my brilliant suggestion: Serve it black, unsweetened. You can fuck it up however you want. Everybody is happy!

      I did steal this idea from every coffee place I've ever been. They have a pot of black, unsweetened coffee.

      They could even put some sweetener and creamer near the cans, or even strap some to the bottom of the can if you're paranoid about abuse.

  • by cffrost (885375) on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:09AM (#15269057) Homepage

    From TFA:

    OnTech's launch campaign for the self-heating product is "It Does What?"

    "It takes time to educate the world to what [self-heating] is about," Weisz said.


    It takes time, no doubt in part because the answer is, "it explodes."

    • "....it takes time, no doubt in part because the answer is, "it explodes."

      Actually that will be one of the quickest educational experiences you will ever have.
  • Now, instead of all the "Contents may be hot" labels, everyone's going to have to start putting "Warning! Contents may detonate" on their coffee cups to avoid lawsuits.
    • Now, instead of all the "Contents may be hot" labels, everyone's going to have to start putting "Warning! Contents may detonate" on their coffee cups to avoid lawsuits.

      How long until the ambulance chasing lawyers on TV get hold of this one? "Have you been burned by an exploding coffee cup? Dial 1-800-..."

    • "Warning! Contents may detonate" on their coffee cups to avoid lawsuits.

      You can't disclaim liability for everything, like a faulty product, for example. That's like the dump trucks that have signs that say "Not responsible for damage to other vehicles caused by falling objects." Which is complete bollocks, since they are indeed responsible for damage to other vehicles in such cases, and they probably just have the stupid sign to scare people from trying to sue them.
  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:13AM (#15269064) Homepage Journal
    Who wants a self heating can when you can get a self cooling beer! [engadget.com]

    (although I'll wait for the non-miller version, as I prefer my beer with flavour thank-you-very-much).
    • Who wants a self heating can when you can get a self cooling beer!

      So they finally figured out that while plastic bottles do stay cold longer, they also take a lot longer to get cold in the first place? Seriously, those commercials really bugged me. If you took a bunch of plastic bottles of beer and then threw some ice over them and took it with you, it'd probably still be lukewarm when you got there. If those bottles were glass or aluminum, it'd be ice cold by then.

      Anyway, how much more would a case of s
  • IT??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eander315 (448340) on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:21AM (#15269072)
    First of all, how is a self-heating coffee can related to IT? I'm not sure I see where the Information part of IT is at in this instance.

    ..."A recall has been announced -- here's hoping the flaws can be 'patched' soon."

    Why? The first time I saw one of these, I thought it was pretty cool. Then I saw how much of the can is comprised of chemicals used to heat the coffee. It looks like half the volume of the can is contained in the chemical pouch, which seems a little excessive. This is not good technology. Until they can find a way to be a little less wasteful to do the same job, I hope they don't patch the problem.

    • Re:IT??? (Score:4, Funny)

      by indifferent children (842621) on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:58AM (#15269188)
      First of all, how is a self-heating coffee can related to IT?

      It's a new platform for Java. Though it does sound like they were too aggressive with the overclocking.

    • Because they used the old Apple PowerBook 540 batteries from the mid nineties which got really hot and burned...
    • Since I originally submitted it under Science/Toys (nothing else seemed to fit as well), I can only assume it's under IT/Bug because the estimable CowboyNeal changed it when he posted it. I admit I didn't notice "Bug" when I submitted it or I probably would have submitted as Science/Bug. (I pondered briefly submitting under the topic "Java", especially given that topic's icon, but decided against.)

      As for why I hope it's patched, partly that was just a lame excuse for a pun. But I'd also like to see a v

    • Nerds like coffee?
      I do anyway
  • nasty (Score:2, Interesting)

    by celardore (844933)
    I tried one of those coffees a few weeks back. It wasn't nice at all, I can't imagine when I would need a hot coffee so bad that I would drink one again.
  • by CortoMaltese (828267) on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:26AM (#15269091)
    This was probably discussed at length a year back, but I'm glad this product failed: I just think it produces too much waste per unit sold. I really don't care how handy or revolutional or whatever the product is, if it's difficult to recycle. Even if the coffee tasted good in it. It's not worth it.

    Of course, that's just the opinion of a person who lives in a country where over 95 % of all beverage cans and bottles are recycled. I think realizing how well the system really works positively affects your attitudes towards recycling.

    • Apparently some degree of attention was paid to recycling. A comment on treehugger [treehugger.com] refers to an assertion by the company that developed it that the cans have been awarded the Grune Punkt, which appears to have something to do with recycling in the EU.
  • by Ithika (703697) on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:33AM (#15269115) Homepage

    I'm no great Java programmer or anything, but shouldn't the virtual machine prevent serious damage to the rest of the system (hand)?

    It could be argued in this case that the software is not at fault, but the hardware. So no amount of adding in extra parentheses will fix the problem. Tis not just a matter of removing the line that says:

    if ((date.month).contains('r')) {
    igniteCan(SAFE_IGNITION * 50);
    } else {
    igniteCan(SAFE_IGNITION);
    }
  • by jjeffrey (558890) * <slash@@@jamesjeffrey...co...uk> on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:55AM (#15269174) Homepage
    We had self-heating coffee cans in the UK under the Nescafe brand (Nestle). They were sold at petrol (gas) stations mainly.

    Problem was not many people bought them. The coffee was nothing special, and because the cans were mostly filled with heater mechaism there wasn't even that much of it. They were expensive too.

    I haven't seen any for a couple of years now. Instead a lot of petrol stations just have a coffee machine, or cans of coffee that are kept in a heater.
    • Yeah, it just doesn't seem like there is much of a market for this kind of product. It's not like a good cup of coffee is ever very far away, unless you live in the middle of nowhere. In which case, they probably don't carry this product anywhere near you anyway, and you'd rather make your own and keep it in a Thermos all day.
  • by technoextreme (885694) on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:01AM (#15269196)
    Wolfgang Puck's coffe cups were renamed Emril's Coffe cups.
  • Boom! (Score:5, Funny)

    by 6Yankee (597075) on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:02AM (#15269201)
    From TFA: it overheated and then blew up, sending her to the hospital.

    It blew her that far? Now that's an explosion!
  • Hot Coffee (Score:5, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:02AM (#15269203)
    Wow, the Hot Coffee mod just gets EVERYONE in trouble, doesn't it?
  • MRE's (Score:3, Informative)

    by rlp (11898) on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:21AM (#15269259)
    I was looking at some packs of civilian MRE's (for camping). You can apparently get them either with or without heating packs. The heating packs appear to take a small quantity of water and produce some sort of chemical exothermic reaction (wouldn't be surprised if they also use Calcium Oxide). Anyway the US military's been using them for many, many years.
  • I remember seeing this sort of thing in a backwater like Denmark years ago - more than 6, perhaps as much as 10 years.

    Apart from that, this sort of thing is yet another example that sums up all the most stupid things in modern society. You take 'modern technology' (in this case a simple process that has been known at least since Roman times) and use it for the most pathetic and useless thing you can imagine; and then you just market it as 'Wow, soooo cool'. Sometimes I think the people who 'invent' kind of
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:30AM (#15269281) Homepage
    Stop all the snivelling, cavilling, whining, Nervous Nellyism. No Progress can be made without taking risks. Did a few minor scalds and burns stop Chuck Yeager?

    Would you like to go back to the dark ages, before antibiotics, the flush toilet, and self-heating coffee cans? When women were barred from advancement, trapped in a lifetime of relentless toil over hot coffeepots? When people routinely perished from exposure walking miles through blizzards attempting to reach the nearest Starbucks? When greedy vending barons forced workers to dig into their pockets for their last few coins, then laughed sadistically as their machines tauntingly dispensed chicken bouillion instead of coffee?

    I say, who wouldn't gladly risk a few small explosions in order to be able to enjoy a hot can of gourmet rich expresso lattee [wpgourmetlattes.com]--say, what's in this stuff, anyway? Ingredients: Water, Coffee (Ingredients (Water, Coffee (Ingredients (Water, Coffee (Ingredients (Water, Coffee (Ingredients (Water, Coffee (Ingredients (Water, Coffee (Ingredients (Water, Coffee (Ingredients (Water, Coffee (Ingredients (Water, Coffee segmentation fault: core dumped
  • I tried one, they taste pretty nice so I bought a bunch of these them figuring I'd use them for the morning drive. After a failure rate of greater than 50% (either not heating properly or having a worrying chemical aftertaste) I just went back to Starbucks :)
  • I've been drinking self-heating cans of sake on winter hikes for years. The walls are some kind of cardboard to provide a little protection for the fingers. Push the button on the bottom and wait around 5 minutes. So this can't be a new technology. There is a plastic cover over the metal base, which has vents presumably to let air in or something else out. Rats, I now realise I haven't investigated the can enough and the season's over :-( I also have MRE heaters in my earthquake kit. The heaters also work
  • ...stay out of the kitchen!
  • self-heating coffee can heats YOU!
  • Imagine drinking one of these while driving.

    Now imagine not having cup holders.

    Now imagine holding one of these between your legs.

    Now imagine it exploding.

  • Save yourself $250k! Pickup a pallet-load of self-emolating lattes, duct-tape 'em to the bug, and let 'er rip!

    A related story.....

    A few years ago, I and some friends took the Durango-Silverton narrow guage train from Durango, got off at the half-way point [durangotrain.com], and backpacked into Colorado's Chicago Basin for a multi-fourteener weekend [sjma.org]. Next morning we woke early and bagged a couple peaks. By evening we were pretty exhausted. One of the ladies had brought along one of the "self-heating" dinners. While t

  • by Guppy06 (410832)
    "here's hoping the flaws can be 'patched' soon."

    Because if there's anything that'll make vending machine coffee sound more appetizing, it's putting it into a can.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday May 05, 2006 @10:47AM (#15270007) Homepage
    I just added some material to the Wikipedia article on self-heating cans. [wikipedia.org]

    In 1941 a ''New York Times'' food column reported:

    Yesterday, we had our first cup of coffee, our first baked beans and our first spaghetti out of the amazing self-heating cans now being introduced by a department store in Manhattan... There's a fifteen-minute wait while the canned food, enclosed in an outer tin, heats without benefit of gas, electricity, or flame of any sort. This trick is accomplished by a chemical inside the first container, and the action is started when four holes are punched in the bottom. The whole mysterious apparatus is turned upside down for the stipulated number of minutes, then righted, and presto! there is your steaming coffee, or food, all ready to serve.

    Holt, Jane (1941) "News of Food: War Emphasizes Benefit of Prune Vitamins--Hammering Opens Oysters," ''The New York Times,'' March 26, 1941, p. 19

    In 1947, the same column reported "Food in Self-Heating Cans Reappears" (their having been reserved for the military during the war). Referring to the cans as "Hotcans," the columnist noted that "Chocolate is made with milk and is delicious (65 to 72 cents). Four hamburgers in tomato sauce with mushrooms are small but good, and the sauce is ample (89 to 98 cents). Coffee tastes something like the instantly brewed type, leaving something to be desired (49 cents)." (49 cents in 1947 is approximately equivalent to $4.64 in 2005).

    Nickerson, Jane (1947), "News of Food: Food in Self-Heating Cans Reappears Here; Recommended for Motorists and Campers," ''The New York Times,'' November 26, 1947, p. 28

    I have to wonder why the technology never took off. Of course, the Wikipedia article links to a 2001 article [soton.ac.uk] touting the "world's first" self-heating coffee, and it does say that the calcium oxide reaction is "nowhere near as straightforward as chemistry text books suggest and that the thermal design was critical to the efficient operation of the device."
  • cans have been reported failing to heat adequately or, more disturbingly, exploding and melting through the packaging

    It was extremely disturbing to find out that these devices fail to heat adequately. Sadness, loss, fear... The emotions are hard to even describe. Who could imagine the story would get more disturbing than that?

Many people write memos to tell you they have nothing to say.

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