Grilled cheese entrepreneur Jonathan Kaplan may have finally solved the longevity problem of the simple but elegant sandwich; in only a few short minutes, gooey deliciousness turns into soggy, congealed mediocrity.
Kaplan, formerly the creator of Flip Camera and the founder of California grilled cheese restaurant chain The Melt, was faced with this problem when attempting to branch out into delivery and catering. In response, The Melt’s “Tiger Team” began working on what would become the Smart Box, a way to keep the sandwiches fresh, Gizmodo reports.
The original prototype consisted of nothing more than a cardboard box with a hair dryer stuck through a hole in it, with sandwiches suspended inside on bamboo sticks. While the device worked, they found that few customers were interested in buying sandwiches out of the contraption, CNET reports.
The Smart Box, now in its fourth iteration, is more sophisticated but still retains the emphasis on air flow. The box contains an aluminum plate to heat the box, and two fans to maintain air circulation and proper humidity levels. Sensors inside monitor temperature and humidity, activating the fans when needed.
Vice President of Operations Greg Hernandez told Gizmodo that in testing the box, the team examined the “ooey-gooeyness of the cheese,” the “mouthfeel” of the bread, and the overall moistness of the sandwich. They found that the latest version of the Smart Box is capable of keeping 18 sandwiches fresh for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.
The Melt has applied for a patent for the technology and hopes to market it to other food delivery services, which means you may never have to leave your home for fresh food again.