Photo: Garden Gourmet.

Happy Friday,

It’s all hands on deck here at the Spoon as we prepare for CES. Our comfortable walking shoes are packed, our schedules are taking shape, and our Criss Angel Mindfreak tickets are booked (just kidding on that last one (maybe)).

We’ll be exploring the cavernous show floors all week long, sniffing out stories about new food tech products and smart kitchen appliances — and taking videos along the way. Make sure to check in on the site and on social to see our latest finds. If you’ll be there with a company of your own, feel free to pitch us!

But before we jet off to Vegas, here are a few of the biggest stories we wrote about this week:

Nestlé is tossing its hat into the meat alternatives ring with an offering called the Incredible Burger. (If you think that sounds a lot like the Impossible Burger, you are right!) In the piece I wrote that I was optimistic that Nestlé’s new burger will be successful, mostly because there’s such demand for plant-based meat that it isn’t a zero-sum game: there are room for all sorts of colorfully-named meatless burgers, chicken nuggets, sausages, etc.

After we published the post, however, we began to see some pushback on social media from readers who were skeptical about Nestlé’s choice, and thought that the Big Food company had much baggage to ethically make plant-based meats. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong (look out for a more in-depth post on this debate on Sunday), but regardless it brings up an interesting point about the implications of Big Food cashing in on new eating trends, e.g. plant-based foods.

Photo: Beyond Meat.

Speaking of plant-based foods, is anyone trying out Veganuary? This year record amounts of consumers are going veg for the month (and beyond), and the U.K. is cashing in big time with a myriad of plant-based offerings in major grocery chains and fast-food joints. Even Pizza Hut has a vegan, BBQ jackfruit-topped pie.

Here in the U.S. we may be a little bit behind the eight ball when it comes to plant-based options, especially in the fast food realm, but a few players, namely Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, are working hard to catch us up. Beyond Meat just launched on the menu at Carl’s Jr. and Impossible Foods, which is already at White Castle, has hinted that it’ll be dropping some news on January 7th at CES — check back here, we’ll be bringing you the business.

In other news this week, Chris got the scoop on AirSpace Link, a startup which came out of stealth this week and launched a registry that allows people to opt in or out of drone delivery. (Drone delivery may still be a ways away — but autonomous vehicle delivery isn’t!) Mike shared his 2019 smart kitchen predictions, from food-driven revenue models to the emergence sentient kitchen. Finally, Jenn wrote about a research group at Princeton University working to provide an open-source model for vertical farming.

If you’re looking for something to listen to this weekend, check out the latest episode of the Smart Kitchen Show. It’s another editor roundtable where the Spoon writers talk about their predictions for 2019 and what they’re looking forward to at CES. You can also get it on Apple podcastsStitcher and Soundcloud!

And finally, we have a job board! We’ve added a whole bunch of listings over the past week, some of which you can check them out below, or you can get the full list on the site. And if you have a job opening at your company, feel free to post it (it is free, after all).

That’s it from me! See you in Vegas (with a glass of wine in hand).

Gourmia to Roll Out Smart Multicooker, Coffee Brewer, and Dehydrator at CES
Brooklyn-based smart kitchen company Gourmia will be unveiling three new IoT-connected devices at CES: an air fryer, a multicooker, and a coffee roaster/brewer.

Lifesum Unveils a Google Assistant Version of Its Health-Tracking App
Swedish company Lifesum has unveiled a Google Assistant version of its nutrition app, which allows users to track meals, weight, and water intake using their voice instead of a phone or computer.

Editor Roundtable Podcast: 2019 Predictions And CES Preview
Take a listen to our latest editorial roundtable podcast, in which we discuss our 2019 predictions and what we’re most looking forward to for CES.

Pepsi and Segway Enter the Increasingly Crowded Delivery Robot Space
Both Pepsi and Ninebot, Segway’s parent company, have announced separate delivery robot initiatives.

MyWah to Debut Connected Wine Dispenser for Businesses at CES
MyWah, a connected wine dispenser which uses RFID-tagged bags to track wine temperature and portioning, is debuting at CES.

DoorDash Is Testing Self-Driving Cars in San Francisco
Third-party delivery service DoorDash just announced it has partnered with General Motors’ Cruise Automation to test autonomous vehicles in San Francisco.

As the Food Industry Wakes Up to Blockchain, Online Training Options are Now Available
It’s no secret that the food industry is rapidly awaking to the great promise of blockchain technology, and headlines abound about how it promises to make traditional paper ledger-based transactions obsolete, replaced by digital ledgers. A number of online blockchain resources are springing up to help educate companies on how to use this new technology.

Soylent Adds Snack Replacement Beverage to its Lineup
Rosa Foods, the company behind meal-replacement-in-a-bottle, Soylent, launched Soylent Bridge, a new, lighter liquid designed to replace your snacking on solids. The 11 oz. Soylent Bridge clocks in at 180 calories with 15 grams of plant-based protein and comes in chocolate flavor. The shelf-stable Bridge will last a year

Why Vertical Farming Won’t Grow Without More Data
Vertical farming may be getting lots of funding, but we don’t actually know how well it works. A research project from Princeton University is getting data from vertical farming and working to make an open-source framework for aspiring vertical farm companies.

New Year, New Food: U.K. Grocery and QSR’s Cash In on Veganuary
In the U.K., large grocery chains and fast-food joints alike are taking advantage of the growing interesting Veganuary — and plant-based eating in general.

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