Some things are just too stupid to be real. But then you introduce Kanye West…
Bitelabs is a startup company introduced in 2014. Like many small food producers, they were focused on attacking a niche market, dominating it, and expanding out from there. It’s a technique which has launched companies like Chef Boyardee, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and White Claw hard seltzer. Bitelabs’ target is the sausage industry, and their effort at innovation is simple: celebrity sausage.
The group advertises its desire to consume celebrities… or at least, clones of celebrities. Here’s how their proposed process works: prospective buyers are encouraged to contact celebrities and ask them to get a biopsy from Bitelabs. Suggested celebrities on the site include Kanye West, Ellen DeGeneres, James Franco, and Jennifer Lawrence. After taking some muscle stem cells from the celebrities in question, those cells would be used to grow large quantities of meat. The celebrity meat would then be split with traditional animal meats as well as fats and spices in a 30%-40%-30% ratio (for flavoring and to keep the costs down for the final product) to produce salami.
Immediately dismissed as a hoax by many tech sites when it was first launched, Vice tasked a reporter with discovering what was the true goal behind the site… and following an investigation, the conclusion reached was that the effort might in fact be real, and if it wasn’t (which remained strongly suspected) there was no obvious payoff for the hoax. The reporter decided that time would tell whether it was the work of a PETA activist, a satirist, or simply a biotech startup looking to raise cash and publicity before moving on to the less flashy world of lab-grown foods.
One way or another, the e-mails he provided showed a significant degree of self-awareness from the site spokesman. They included bits like: “We have reasons to remain anonymous at the moment due to the controversial nature of our product. We’re a very small team right now (less than 5)“; “If we receive major interest, we’ll talk to investors, but we also think crowdfunding celebrity meat via Kickstarter might be a way for us to bootstrap” and “We understand that this generates a certain degree of skepticism and we’re okay with that being expressed. “
It’s been six years since the site went live. Perhaps the site creators have a remarkable patience for delivering a humorous payoff. Perhaps they share some views of Andy Kaufman regarding comedy, and believe that causing confusion in others for one’s own amusement is a suitable goal. Or possibly they have been serious during this entire time, and have simply failed to gather the support for low-level cannibalism that they anticipated.
Question of the night: It’s only right to set aside any food questions for another night… are there any projects you’ve helped to crowdfund?