Scientist designs chopsticks that give you electric shocks as you eat

Scientist designs chopsticks that give you electric shocks as you eat

For the most part, Mother Nature gave us the tools we needed to be able to survive. Legs equipped to walk or run long distances, the brains necessary to outsmart deadly predators, and most importantly: the ability to shovel food into our faceholes when the entire operation is in dire need of fuel.

As our food needs grew, so too did our need for more complicated machinery for the aforementioned facehole-shovelling; fingers and thumbs were replaced with knives, forks and spoons, with chopsticks another useful and necessary addition.

But are such utensils enough to satisfy our hunger? My personal vote would be yes: I have very little, if any problems with the way that food is transported into my mouth. If anything, I'd ask Mother Nature for an even larger mouth so my eating tools would become even more effective.

But one institution out in Maine has a new addition to our humble cooking utensils; one they hope will bring us sharply into the 21st century when it comes to the methods of food consumption. Is it too crazy to work? You be the judge, dear reader, and have a look for yourselves.

Here's the thing: no matter how bad it might be for you in large amounts, the human body loves salt. It makes food taste better, it's easy to add or take away from a meal, and it even works as a mild antidepressant in a bind. Emphasis on in a bind. Now, unfortunately, around 30 percent of all adults suffer from high blood pressure.

This necessitates a cut-down on sodium intake, but that means also making food taste less good. So, understandably, people aren't too into it. So the Multisensory Interactive Media Lab at the University of Maine - headed up by assistant professor and director Nimesha Ranasinghe - came up with a left-field solution.

Instead of adding more salt to people's foods, what if you could trick people into thinking they were eating more salt? Even better, what if you could program it into their eating utensils? "It's too crazy to work!" I already hear you scream in disbelief, but it's too late. “By applying electric salt to mashed potato, the overall flavor is enhanced," Ranasinghe reveals.

He created a pair of chopsticks that have electrodes embedded in the tip, allowing salt-hungry mealgoers to give themselves a little jolt of flavour whenever they need it. Now, the troublemaker in me wonders if those electric chopsticks can be used for evil rather than good (imagine the poking potential), but Ranasinghe is already working on other flavours than can be unlocked with the power of electricity.

“We have some early findings of simulating sweetness, a mint-cool sensation and hot or spicy," he reveals, adding: “The flavor would be external to whatever you’re consuming.” This could have a huge effect on portion control moving forward and Britain's National Obesity Forum agrees, saying: “It could be a significant step in stemming the current crisis."

It may look ridiculous, but if electric chopsticks could help us all be healthier people, then sign me up. Also, it would be super fun to poke people with them.