Published March 07, 2008
| Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO – You want pancakes, but the idea of adding water to powder and stirring it around just seems like too much effort. Enter Batter Blaster, the pancake you just point and spray.
Gastronomic genius? Or sign of the apocalypse?
It all depends on how you feel about really fast food.
For Nate Steck, part of the two-man team that developed Batter Blaster, the product is a way to put something hot and tasty on the table of people who have lost touch with the most important meal of the day.
"If you sit down with your family in the morning, you can cook these pancakes so quick," he said in an interview in Batter Blaster's new offices in a south-of-Market alley in San Francisco.
"You can actually give the house that smell of home cooking," Steck said. "You're not burning the frozen waffles in the toaster. This heats up the house. The kids like it; they feel like they're spending some time with the family."
The contents are pressurized and the can has a nozzle similar to a whipped cream can, which can unleash artistic aspirations in the way of animal, geometric and letter-shaped pancakes.
Preparation: Shake the can firmly before spraying. Clean up: Rinse the nozzle under running water after using.
The product, which is organic, comes more than a century after the launch of the first convenience pancake product, a powdered mix that eventually would be called Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix.
And Batter Blaster begs comparison to other ultra-convenience foods, such as Easy Cheese, that staple of dorm room soirees, and Reddi-Wip, the ubiquitous canned whipped cream.
Some flip for the spray-and-bake breakfasts.
"They're fantastic," says Keith Bussell, a Los Angeles software developer who picked up a can of Batter Blaster on a lark and was won over by the ease of making just one or two pancakes sans stirring. "It's not an approximation of pancakes. They're really good pancakes," he said.
"That is just wrong on SO MANY LEVELS!" Oakland accountant Beth Terry wrote in her blog review of the Batter Blaster.
In a phone interview, Terry said her big issue with the product, which she has no plans to try, is that it comes in a can, which she said takes an energy and resource toll even though it is recyclable. "It's not even necessarily about slow food," she said. "Pancakes are not slow."
Steck says the idea is to provide convenience "but it's also about being with a group, being with family. It's not the end of the world. It's just a better world, I think."
Batter Blaster is available at a number of grocers, including the Meijer chain in the Midwest and Northeast and Albertsons in western states, and is expected to expand to other regions later this year.
A single can, which makes more than two dozen 4-inch pancakes, sells for around $5 to $6 and three-packs that cost about $10 are available at Costco stores in the West, including California and Texas.
The product is the brainchild of Sean O'Connor, a former restaurateur who was looking for a brisker breakfast and realized it wouldn't be that hard to put pancake ingredients in a can.
He was right. The tough part turned out to be squeezing cash out of investors, many of whom found the idea too out-there.
But using financing from family and friends, the two were able to bring their product to market late last year.
So far, more than 400,000 cans have sold.
Some of those buyers appear to have been new to the kitchen. One complaint that came in through customer feedback was that the pancakes were sticking to the pan.
Apparently they didn't know about that other kitchen corner-cutter, canned cooking spray.