Confession: I have been a vegetarian for the last 19 years.
I know, I know. But before you judge, I’m not an annoying vegetarian—I don’t yell about animal rights at dinner or side-eye meat eating friends when they order a T-bone. It’s just kind of a thing I do.
And as we approach Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of a certain undeniable fact about vegetarianism: Holiday meals are awful.
Just imagine—your entire family is all gathered together around a giant feast, juicy turkey glistening center-stage, grandpa with the carving knife standing ready. Straight out of a Normal Rockwell painting.
But for you? Side dishes. Corn and potatoes. Lumps of green beans and can-pocked cranberry sauce. Your own sad little Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
This was my “feast” for the first decade and a half of my non-meat experiment. A sad ordeal from which there seemed to be no rescue.
The situation was legitimately troubling for me, actually, as a matter of principle.
There are plenty of vegetarians out there facing this same empty plate every year, all of them looking for a delicious solution. There was a hole in the market and, if I understood innovation at all, that meant someone somewhere should be filling it.
That’s how innovation is supposed to work.
And then I discovered Tofurky—the not-exactly-delicious-but-certainly-better-than-just-corn miracle solution the market needed.
|Tofurky: How to turn a Friendsgiving into an I'm-Never-Speaking-to-You-Againsgiving.|
Now, I won’t attempt to defend the stuff here, but it does have some merits. The manufacturer of this stuff worked out a recipe that approximates the rough texture we were looking for, and a taste that’s... turkey-like, at least. It's not a perfect replacement, but it’s something.
This discovery redeemed a lot for me.
First, of course, it returned Thanksgiving. But it also reaffirmed my understanding of the innovation process.
The best innovations, I believe, don’t come out of pure invention and wacky ideas.
They come from someone being wise enough to notice a problem that no one else has noticed and using their wacky ideas to find a solution that no one else has ever considered.
This is as true in manufacturing equipment and unmonitored assets as it is for fake turkey.
It’s how this industry survives and it’s what makes this country great.
And for that, after a long year of disruption, I am truly grateful. This is an industry of innovators who will never stop uncovering problems, who will never stop making work easier, making production more efficient, and making the world a little better even for us sad, frail vegetarians.
So, thank you for all of your work, problem solvers.
New Equipment Digest
(Now, will someone please fix Candy Corn?)