Flashback to preschool: Remember how unsatisfying that Fisher-Price plastic play food was? Even then, you knew that mixing sad, oddly shaped plastic balls in yet another plastic, “safety-guaranteed” bowl and pretending that you just made a salad was nowhere near as exciting as playing with real food.
These days, the pre-schoolers of the 21st century (and really everyone else) have it much better thanks to a few creative Japanese food companies. Several Youtube videos showing how you can “cook” ultra realistic-looking food miniatures like hamburgers and sushi (using just powder and water!) recently went viral, and they’re like nothing you’ve seen before. This toy gives you the experience of actually cooking in the kitchen without the necessity of purchasing cooking tools, and the best part is you can eat it too!
1. Popin’ Cookin’
Manufactured by a Japanese company called Kracie, Popin’ Cookin’ is edible gummy candy that resembles actual food, including everything from sushi, doughnuts, cake and pizza to spaghetti and Japanese bento. The candies start off as powder, then when the “chef” adds water and mixes them together in special custom molds, they magically turn into food-shaped candy. The critical question here is, of course, how does it taste?
According to Amazon reviews, it really seems to depend on individual preference. So for those adventurous minds out there, definitely try it out since they only cost $3 to $5 online. Plus, unlike most candies you binged on during Halloween, Popin’ Cookin’ has no artificial colors or preservatives, and is high in calcium.
2. Happy Kitchen
Also manufactured by Kracie, Happy Kitchen is similar to Popin’ Cookin’, but with a twist: The toy actually tastes like the food it resembles. Mind-blowing, right? Thanks to this innovative toy, you can create the saltiness of potato fries, the sugary taste of Coke and the savory goodness of a hamburger — all with just some powder and water. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you want the ultimate cooking experience, Konapun is where it’s at. The kit comes with all the cooking utensils you need, such as mixing bowls, spatulas and cookie cutters, making the process remarkably realistic. My favorite feature of this toy is that you can “fry” food — when you drop an item into “oil,” it begins to bubble and rise when it’s done, as if it were really frying (it is actually citric acid reacting with alginic acid, which is derived from seaweed). Unfortunately, Konapun is inedible and is a lot pricier than Popin’ Cookin’ and Happy Kitchen’ (the full kit costs up to $60 on Ebay!), but it certainly will give you a pretty fun afternoon.
There’s no question that the culinary toys of the future are here, and if you want to make up for all those years playing with Velcro hamburgers and plastic peas, we won’t blame you (and we’ll probably join you). Happy fake cooking!