Storytime: A Tale of Technology and Meat


Imagine there’s a company– let’s call them “Midway”– that owns a number of different restaurants, each with its own specialty. The meals these restaurants serve are getting fancier and more complex as people’s tastes grow towards the elaborate. Unfortunately, even though the preparations are more difficult and expensive to make, the price for customers doesn’t have much room to go up. This company and other restaurant-owners are concerned about this trend. It’s clear to that whole industry that everyone will need to figure out to make these extravagant productions in a way that doesn’t bankrupt them.

As everyone knows, dishes typically share many ingredients, even among varying styles of cuisine. It’s immediately apparent that several of these restaurants spend time duplicating each other’s work creating basic staples of the kitchen, such as soup stock or spice mixes. Everyone sees this as an opportunity to streamline the operation of their diverse restaurants. One company, called “Activision”, decides to get all their restaurants together to talk about some of the ingredients they might share, with some successes here and there. But the final decisions remain with the chefs in charge of each restaurant.

Midway has a different, more radical idea. It’s smaller and has less resources than a large company like Activision, so it needs to be even smarter. They come up with a plan to get what they feel is the next-best thing. As it happens, there is a company, called “Epic”, which specializes in and is famous for its pork. Midway strikes a deal with this company: Epic will provide its range of base ingredients for use across all of Midway’s restaurants. And looking at the list, it’s quite impressive: not only are there many varieties of pork-based meats, such as delicious bacon, ham, and hot dogs, there are also arrays of spice mixes formulated for pork, various barbeque sauces, and so on. The executives at Midway imagine a future in which all their restaurants will be able to base their dishes on a combination of the ingredients that Epic has made.

When they tell the restaurants their plan, the response is mixed. “The idea itself isn’t bad,” the chefs say, “but are you telling us that we have to reformulate all our recipes to be based on Epic’s pork?” The people who run Midway understand this concern. “There will be a rough period as we transition over to being a pork-based company,” they say, “But the benefits will pay off in the long-term. Eventually, all our restaurants will be running on this pork-based system, which will reduce costs and meal preparation time because you’ll have basic ingredients to work with right out of the gate– instead of having to make them yourselves.”

The period following is rough going. Some of the restaurants have trouble retooling their recipes to incorporate the pork-based ingredients into their dishes. Additionally, although Epic had claimed that pork was an extremely versatile meat, it turns out to be particularly difficult to work into meals meant to be served on plates and flatware provided by Sony Corporation, one of the world’s major restaurant suppliers. To make matters worse, a new style of food is growing in popularity; associated with a company called Nintendo and served on their own plates, this style of cuisine is, among other things, kosher, and technically can’t include anything based on pork at all.

So, the moral of my little story? Bacon is an ingredient– not a strategy.

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