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Deliverable Grilled Cheese: The Final Frontier

When one thinks of NASA, they almost immediately think of rocket ships and space travel. They put a man on the moon, found life on Mars, and have an on-again/off-again relationship with Pluto as a planet.

 Now, however, it seems they’ve got their priorities straight. This can be seen in the invention of the Smart Box.

The Smart Box was a concept originally thought of by Jonathan Kaplan, who also thought of the Flip camera. It’s a way to deliver grilled cheeses that still taste like they’re fresh out of the oven.

This all stemmed from Kaplan’s company The Melt, which delivers soups, salads, and grilled cheeses to customers across Southern California, and offers catering services. According to Kerri Martin, the vice president of Marketing for The Melt, delivering a grilled cheese is no easy feat.

“A ‘melt,’ (sandwich) without assistance, lasts about six to seven minutes of optimal quality,” Martin says. “When you look at catering, you have to allow for at least 30 minutes by the time it gets out of kitchen and to the client, so that was the challenge at hand.”

Any grilled cheese lover knows there are few things more disappointing than a soggy grilled cheese, so obviously this was a huge issue for The Melt. Kaplan knew what he wanted, and employed NASA to help him reach his goal. They started working on the Smart Box a year ago, and first released the invention over the summer.

Here’s how it works: The box is heated to 210 degrees (though this number may vary based on what type of grilled cheese it is), with fans and sensors to keep that temperature. In addition, there are insulated boxes that the actual grilled cheeses are kept in that have holes to regulate airflow, which is the key to keeping the grilled cheese crunchy and delicious. For more on this process, see here.

This was the product of several attempts, ranging from a cardboard box with a hairdryer attached to it to keeping the box with the grilled cheese in it on bamboo skewers. But the final product has proved to be much more eloquent, sporting a bright orange exterior.

Currently, there are ten Smart Boxes in use in the San Francisco area, though they are planning on expanding to the rest of their southern California stores, as well as add 10-20 more Smart Boxes to their repertoire.

But this may not be limited to just grilled cheeses. This invention could also work for pizza delivery, or could lead to finding a similar invention that works for pizza delivery. The same could be said for cheeseburgers, French fries, cookies or any food that significantly loses its flavor when it’s not delivered fresh out of the oven. In ways, this could completely revolutionize both the deliverable food industry and the catering industry.

So next time you’re thinking about NASA, think not only of the great things they’ve done in exploring space, but of the way they’ve changed the way we eat grilled cheese as well.

To learn more about the Smart Box, click here.

Featured Image Courtesy of Finding Lovers

Amanda Doughty

Amanda Doughty considers cheese to be an essential part of her upbringing, as her family owns Anthony's Italian Kitchen, an Italian restaurant in Portland, Maine. Currently she studies creative writing at Emerson, where she is considered an outcast for refusing to touch the disgusting pizza in the Dining Hall. She admits that is a bit of a food snob, especially when it comes to pizza and cheese.