From a second chance for single-use chopsticks, we pivot to a high-value pair you may want to keep forever: Japan’s Meiji University and the food and beverage company Kirin have collaborated on the creation of chopsticks that can help eaters reduce their sodium intake, through the power of electricity!
The futuristic utensils are attached to a microcomputer worn on the diner’s wrist. They emit a tiny electrical current that creates an artificial salty taste in the mouth of the wearer. How this is done is some pretty nifty science.
“The chopsticks use ‘very weak electricity – not enough to affect the human body – to adjust the function of ions such as sodium chloride and sodium glutamate to change the perception of taste by making food seem to taste stronger or weaker, Kirin said in a statement.
[Prof. Homei] Miyashita and Kirin said clinical tests on people who follow a low-sodium diet had confirmed that the device enhances the salty taste of low-sodium food by about 1.5 times. They said participants given reduced-salt miso soup had commented on the improved ‘richness, sweetness and overall tastiness’ of the dish.“
As someone who makes condiments for a living, I know firsthand how important salt is in a dish. These chopsticks would be a particular godsend for those with medical conditions that prevent them from consuming actual salt – an especially miserable diet. (Though we could all do with a bit of sodium awareness, if not reduction) The Meiji/Kirin team plans to refine the prototype and start rolling out sets of chopsticks to consumers next year. In particular, it’ll be interesting to see how a larger salt-loving populace like that of Japan finds these. I’d love to try a pair myself!