Last year, Don Buckley (Director of Innovation at The School at Columbia University) launched the Year of Innovation. (I wrote a post about it here). Teachers were tasked with using Design Thinking to rethink Homework, Grading, Recess, Discipline, and Lunch. Watch a brief video of Don discussing the initiative here: http://donbuckley.info/design-thinking-a-year-of-innovation
Don brought in innovative experts to elevate the level of the discourse and inspire our faculty to think differently. One of those speakers was Chef Adam Melonas (@AdamChef). Adam spoke of his training, his work with children, his passions, and a new project to unjunk candy. Below is text pasted from UNREAL Candy’s website at http://getunreal.com:
It took a question from a 13 year old
A few years ago, Michael and his 13 year old son Nicky got into an argument over Halloween candy. Nicky came home with his bag of loot, went to bed, and woke up the next morning to find that his dad had confiscated most of it. It played out the way these fights normally do, with the candy gone and Nicky going to his room. Later, Nicky did some research online (to prove to his dad that candy isn’t so bad). He discovered that his dad was right (for once). It’s not that Nicky thought candy was healthy. It’s that he didn’t know how bad it really was. What Nicky learned was that the worst parts of candy (like hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives) aren’t there to make it taste good. They’re there to make it cheaper to produce. Nicky had a hunch that without the junk, candy could taste better. With the help of his older brother Kris, and his dad, they set out to prove it.
Proving candy can be unjunked™
Nicky started calling chefs and professors, hoping to find one to take up the challenge. Not a single person believed it could be done. Finally, Kris’ research led Nicky to a well known professor of food sciences at the University of Bristol, in the UK. That professor recommended Adam Melonas, a top chef in Spain. Adam was so inspired by the mission of changing junk food that he immediately brought together top scientists and chefs all across Europe to recreate America’s biggest selling candies, without the junk. Along the way Nicky and Adam developed UNREAL™’s mantra: “Unjunk™!” Corn syrup? Out. Partially hydrogenated oils? Out. GMOs? Out. Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives? Out. Reduced sugar by over 40% per serving on average? Check. They also decided key ingredients needed to be responsibly sourced, supporting farming communities and preventing destruction of the rain forests. All ingredients needed to be non GMO. Dairy needed to come from pasture raised cows with no antibiotics or added hormones. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do for people and the planet. They had to figure out how to keep it fresh on shelves without artificial preservatives. To get the taste just right, they literally tested hundreds of recipes to generate just five different candies. Along the way they had to work out how to produce the candy at a cost that would allow them to sell it at the same price as the old candy. This was critical. It’s one thing to sell an expensive bar at a fancy health food store. It’s another to give everyone a new option that costs the same at the checkout of your grocer or convenience store.