On my first trip to Reykjavik, my flight landed in the darkness of an early February morning. It was after 7 AM by the time I made it into the city center but, at that time of the year, there’s still a good three hours before the sun pushes its shoulders above the horizon. My AirBnB was off-limits until midday, so I walked, downed some coffee, and walked some more, until I caught the scent of bread—and then I followed that for several blocks.
It was an inviting smell, warm and fresh, and I was determined to go full scenthound and find which quiet, sleet-slicked street it was coming from. Five minutes later, I realized it was a Subway—a fucking Subway—and there’s no better barometer for understanding how jetlagged you are than being catfished by Subway bread.
But, the next time I’m caught off-guard by the scent of freshly baked carbs, it might be coming from a fully automated bread-making machine.
One of the early highlights of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), was the BreadBot, a legit technological marvel that turns dry ingredients into perfect, golden loaves of bread in about 90 minutes. It also doesn’t require any human input, other than pouring the mix in at the beginning of a baking session and wiping it down at the end of the day.
According to Wilkinson Baking Company, the Washington-based company that developed the BreadBot, this glorious machine can produce ten loaves every hour, with a new loaf ready to go every six minutes. (Its daily max is 235 loaves of bread, which sounds like a decent cheat meal). It can currently bake five different kinds of bread, including organic seeds and grains, organic whole wheat, conventional whole wheat, and homestyle wheat.
"Bread is a staple of American life. But in most supermarkets today, it has lost its emotional connection with the shopper," Wilkinson Baking Company CEO Randall Wilkinson said. "In the age of home delivery, The BreadBot attracts consumers back to the store because it delivers fresh, delicious bread that is produced with theater and engagement.”
Because the loaves are (theoretically) purchased within 18 to 45 minutes of sliding out of the oven, there’s also no need for preservatives or additives to be added to the mix. CNET reports that the BreadBot has been designed to be leased or purchased by supermarkets or other retailers, and has an estimated $100,000 price tag. (MUNCHIES has reached out to Wilkinson Baking Company for further information but has not yet received a response.)
The BreadBot has been researched and developed for more than 20 years, but if its CES debut is any indication, it’s closer to becoming an in-store reality. Wilkinson’s website promises that it will provide the “smell of fresh bread” wherever it’s deployed, and, at least with BreadBot, that won’t smell like disappointment, too.