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Posted At: 05 February 2010 16:44 PM
Related Categories: Retailers, Social Commentary


You know, I can’t even remember how I stumbled upon this gem of a blog topic yesterday; I must have read something throughout the day that lead me down the long dark path into researching…self heating food products


Stick with me here.


You must remember those little coffee cans you used to be able to get at the supermarket – you pop a button in the bottom, give it a shake and hey presto you’ve got third degree burns and lovely nice hot coffee…? Yes, well, you can get food that does that now you know. Whole meals, in fact!


Actually, it seems like there is a whole sector out there based on the innovation, production and retailing of self-heating products, and its not a new thing. Self-heating food was first produced for mountaineers and explorers in the 1900s, and they even appeared in the rations available in the Second World War! Fascinating.


And it’s not just cans. Oh no. One particular company that I came across in my research has to get special kudos, for they have invented…wait for it… self-heating cups, fondue kits, ‘containers’, business lunch (??!) and 3 course meals. Bargan Innovation Production Group, if you’re interested. I wish we could post pictures on the SnapShop blog, because the picture of their self-heating 3 course meal is amazing.


As far as I could see, these meals were not in stock at any of the outdoor retailers on the high street, which is just barmy. Surely this sort of stuff would be great for the novice/lazy camper or unfussy festival goer? Blacks, Millets, Go Outdoors (they have pouches, but not the self-heating container bit I got with mine); none of them had what I was looking for. I’m sort of convinced that offering these a bit cheaper/as part of a festival/summer camping kit would be a great hit. Ok, so this is mainly my desperate attempt at linking this topic to retailing, but you know, its products like this that get peoples attention. I’d never heard of such a thing until stumbling upon it, and I’m sure the majority of non-hardcore-outdoor-types will feel the same – “I don’t know why, but I want some!” – so why aren’t they in stores? A bit of innovation might shake this sector up – especially when we all know you can get a tent just as good from Wilkinsons and Tesco, these days.


Finally, if you’re interested, a review of the products that I tested…


I ordered sausage and beans in a can from Hotcan and an All Day Breakfast pouch from Autochef.


The Hotcan was definitely the easiest of the two products to use, the cheapest (by 1p – both cost around £4), and the contents were edible. The method for activating the magic chemicals inside involves sticking a metal spike (included) into some holes and standing well back. It kind of sounded like the can might explode – some bubbling and hissing with rising steam was observed – but all was well! The contents didn’t get hot enough for me personally, but it was plenty hot enough to give you a nice hot meal in an emergency. All in all, 4/5 for the Hotcan I think.


The Autochef breakfast was a bit too fiddly for me to recommend in an emergency. The food itself comes in one pack, while the separate heating pack has to be activated with water (provided). You put the food in the hot pack and voilla! Although, be warned, the pack gets very hot and is not protected by cushioning as the can – actually, it got so hot I moved it out of the carboard box I’d stood it in into the metal sink, concerned that I may set the office on fire! Not only that, but leaning over to smell it (not sure why!) resulted in a nose scolded by the steam for intrigued JC, who also burnt her finger on it! I’d not be confident using this in a tent, or anywhere remotely flammable, although I’m sure it wouldn’t be on sale if such things could occur. The contents – pretty much the same as the beans and sausage, with the addition of some tofu-esque omelette and tasteless bacon bits. Alright, but you’d be better off with the straight sausage/beans combo. 3/5 for Autochef.


Bit of a random blog, I give you, and really only loosely related to retail, but interesting all the same, I hope!


Next mission; to find somewhere that still sells self-heating coffee/tea!


PS: One of our Directors did suggest he’d take 3 week old dead squirrel over our offerings, but frankly, that’s just a negative attitude!

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