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The Next Old Thing

Illustration Spur Design

Getty Images (Child)

Getty Images (Child)

The Technology: 3-D Food Printing
The Product: ChefJet Pro
The Forebear: Julia Child

Julia Child was not known for her meticulousness—she was far more likely to be found waving her arms wildly over a dead chicken than fiddling with a measuring spoon. As one journalist put it, referring to her show “The French Chef”: “Each of her cooking lessons has about it the uncertainty of a reckless adventure.”

In this regard, the new ChefJet Pro could be described as the anti-Julia, a product whose single defining feature is the potential for culinary precision, uniformity and predictability. The device is part of a revolution we’ve been hearing about lately, one that promises to transform the way we shop, design, create—and, now, ruin our teeth.

The revolution in question is the advent of 3-D printing, which will enable every one of us, at the push of a button, to instantly produce engine parts, footwear, tchotchkes, bionic ears and—thanks to the ChefJet Pro—candy.

The device, which will go on sale later this year, uses simple software that allows the user to print candies in a multitude of flavors. While the confections produced in demos have been limited to a bunch of colorful geometric shapes for topping cakes, these sugar printers will soon allow us to make a sour-grape Eiffel Tower, a mint-chocolate Minion from Despicable Me or a marzipan version of your beloved shih tzu.

Recently, 3D Systems, the company responsible for the ChefJet, announced a partnership with Hershey’s, adding one of America’s favorite chocolates to the mix.

Still, there are downsides to the technology. Like the price—around $10,000 for a top-of-the-line model, which would buy an awful lot of Jolly Ranchers. And then, of course, there will be those times when you just want to print a cheeseburger—something the ChefJet Pro cannot do … yet.

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