A perfect summer evening for many is grilling in the backyard with good friends, good, beer and good tunes. Flavor company McCormick is trying — maybe a little too hard — to capitalize on that last one.
A few days ago the spice giant announced it had teamed up with fellow grill stalwarts French’s Mustard, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Sauce, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Frank’s RedHot to create SUMR HITS 5000. It may sound like a sub-par CD compilation from the early 2000’s but the SUMR HITS 5000 is actually a grill integrated with a DJ system that switches up tracks based on what you’re cooking.
The press release doesn’t dive too deeply into how the whole DJ-ing bit actually works — only that McCormick is using custom hardware and software based on machine learning algorithms to “produce beats based on food placement and product usage, ultimately creating custom music tracks.”
Based off of the promo video below, it looks like the SUMR HITS 5000 links pre-recorded music and sounds to a weight-sensitive condiment tray and the grill itself. So when you pick up the hot sauce or flip your veggie burger, new sound bites play from a speaker presumably embedded somewhere inside the grill.
Yes, this is absolutely a gimmicky marketing ploy. Yes, the entire concept absolutely sounds like it was dreamed up by a bunch of dads trying a little too hard to resonate with the “youth.”
However, the SUMR HITS 5000 is an interesting new effort on McCormick’s part to capitalize off of a red-hot (sorry) food trend: flavor and AI. Just a few months ago, the spice giant teamed up with IBM on a new initiative that uses AI to develop better spice mixes more quickly and efficiently. The company also has its Flavorprint service, which draws on consumers’ recipe search histories to recommend new spice-driven recipes.
It’s unclear if this is just a one-off or if McCormick plans to go on tour with or eventually sell the SUMR HITS 5000. Now if they could get on creating a grill that dispenses beers along with the beats, that would be great.
Interested in learning more about the intersection of flavor and AI? McCormick’s Chief Science Officer Hamed Faridi will be speaking at the Smart Kitchen Summit (SKS) in Seattle this October! Grab your tickets here.
Update: A previous version incorrectly stated that the SUMR HITS 5000 didn’t work with ketchup.