The English have done it, tried it, been there. The Japanese have partially tried it, and an American company on the West Coast has also been seeking capital to undertake a pilot plant operation to do it. Everyone wants to make a product that will offer a self-heating element in the package so it will heat whatever the package contains without the need for electricity, gas or external heat of any kind.
The English have done this with a very heavy can around which is a jacket that heats up (unfortunately, it's too heavy to carry far!). The Japanese and Americans have done it in beverages, generally, with a small pocket in the can that heats up the contents in touch with the pocket surface. But HeaterMeals in Cincinnati has done it with a variety of meals, in reasonable quantities and without lots of extraneous weight prohibiting portability.
Containing the patented ZestoTherm Food Heater, which is activated by water, HeaterMeals provide a hot meal anytime, anyplace. When activated, the food heater heats the entree 100 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the entree's starting temperature. It takes about 14 minutes, without electricity, fire or flame.
Included in the range of HeaterMeals are two breakfast entrees: Scrambled Egg Whites, Potatoes and Bacon; and Scrambled Egg Whites, Potatoes and Sausage. Other offerings include Grill Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (12.5 ounces); Mushroom Gravy, Beef and Mashed Potatoes (13 ounces); Homestyle Chicken and Noodles in Gravy (12 ounces); Green Pepper Steak with Rice (12 ounces); Chili with Beans (12.5 ounces), and Cheese Ravioli in Tomato Sauce (12 ounces). This is the same process that has produced more than 65 million field heaters for the U.S. Army (it sure beats C-Rations!). These heaters are used by soldiers worldwide to heat the entree of a meal ready-to-eat. The food in HeaterMeals is much different from military food and can be used wherever a hot meal is wanted but no ready heat source is available. Apparently, American truckers are finding these meals available at truck stops across America. Will American campers be far behind? Robert McMath is a new products consultant and director of the New Products Showcase & Learning Center, Ithaca, N.Y.
Robert McMath is a new-product consultant and director of the New Products Showcase & Learning Center in Ithaca, N.Y.