This is Soylent, the sometimes criticized, sometimes copied, sometimes outlawed meal replacement beverage. More interesting than what it is, though, is where it is. Right now it’s in the “health beverages” section, next to Naked juices and nearby other fruit juices, inside of a 7-Eleven in downtown Austin, TX.
According to an employee, “”We sell a lot [of Soylent], even though it’s four bucks a bottle.” Two things stand out about this: first, Soylent (and all of its various flavors) is sufficiently popular to warrant being carried inside of this Austin branch of 7-Eleven (an analytical and data-driven company who would gladly pull anything from their shelves that wasn’t worth the space). That these bottles are here mean they are sufficiently important in enough locals’ daily routines so as to be made officially “convenient”.
I’m interested how far we are from when “instant (drinkable/pill-form) meals” become their own separate section in convenience stores. As I think about this, I’m reminded of Near Future Laboratory’s excellent five-minute film, “Corner Convenience”, which states, “the trajectory of all great innovations is to asymptotically trend towards the counter of your corner convenience store”.
Zooming out, considering that food is one of the main ways a culture expresses itself, what does this say about Austin’s (and Silicon Valley, from whence it came) culture (and how it is changing)?