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252. Bright Idea: Batali Pizza Peel March 27, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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HumBugg: The last pizza peel I had was all wood, and it soon split apart over time (I guess because I washed it with hot water).

This pictured pizza peel not only won’t split because it is mostly metal, but it folds up for easy storage. Near perfect design: Bravo! (Unless, of course, the pivot joint easily breaks on you).

Buy it HERE ($30); via KitchenContraptions.com.

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240. IdeaSpark*: Double-decker Pizza Box March 20, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*, Product.
1 comment so far

Tonight, my wife and I had pizza for dinner; quick, easy, and tasty. But realizing the experience is not always perfect, I came up with an IdeaSpark*.

Problem: By the time you get to the second half of your delivered pizza, the cheese has cooled down. Then you can’t really fit the box in the fridge (if there are leftovers), or in the trash can (if you ate the whole pizza).

Solution: My IdeaSpark* is to have a double-decker pizza box, with one section for each half of the pizza (the whole pizza is still round). So…(1) You only open the top section of the box to eat the first half of the pizza, and the second half is still warm in the bottom by the time you get to it; and (2) the box is easier to fit in the fridge, or (3) in the trash can.

Also…(4) It would probably more convenient for the delivery people to carry (the thermal bag could be carried at the side of their body, and not in front of it). And finally, (5) This is an instant branding gimmick, to clearly set apart a particular pizza delivery place.

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235. Bright Idea?: Drink Selector Mug March 18, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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This Drink Selector Mug seems like a Bright Idea. Turn the metal rings to indicate the specifics of the contents of the mug. But though the idea is whimsically creative, it’s not really that practical.

If this mug is meant to be used it at home, it must be for your guests only (unless you use it for yourself and you have anterograde amnesia). But I would simply let my guests add what they want to their drink.

If it is for a quaint coffee shop, I suppose that it could be used similarly to those disposable soda cup lids (where you depress those little indicator dome-buttons so as to not confuse, say, the diet from the regular drinks). So when the drinks are ready for you and your friend, you know which is, say, decaf, and which is regular coffee.

But for every other drink variable (like how much sugar is added), again, the person will just alter it themselves. And, at least in the US, for these mugs to be really used the way intended, they would have to have many indicators (e.g. sugar, raw sugar, Sweet and Low, Splenda, Equal, Stevia; black, skim milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, whole milk, half-and-half, soy milk, breast milk, etc).

IMHO, these don’t seem all that useful. Maybe that is why they are now selling for $6 each (down from $28). Buy one (or not) HERE.

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233. Bright Idea: The Sun Oven March 17, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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This solar oven uses mirrors to focus the sun’s rays into an insulated box, heating it to 360-400 degrees F. No need for wood, kerosene, charcoal, etc. for cooking.

Over 32 thousand family-sized units ($260) are being used in over 130 countries. The giant version ($11 K) can be used at schools, hospitals, orphanages, disaster relief areas, and football games, serving up to 1,200 meals a day.

Check out their website HERE, via Business2.0.

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229. Bright Idea: The “One-Click” Butter Cutter March 16, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
2 comments

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This Bright Idea was submitted by Lennia (thanks!), who is actually the daughter of the inventor of the “One-Click” Butter Cutter ($20).

Use one hand to quickly and easily slice off a piece of butter. Also acts as a butter dish, but with an even smaller footprint in the fridge.

Check out their website HERE (especially the Video).

History: Conceived in 1996, The Butter Cutter required 5 years and 60 prototypes to make, and another 3 years to get the best mold made.

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219. Bright Idea?: Water Bottle Safe March 13, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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There is a Bright Idea here: the actual water on top makes this water bottle look real.  Hidden, under the label, is the compartment for your valuables. Very sneaky. Via OhGizmo.

However, perhaps the makers should have used a liquid less universally appealing than water, like, say, prune juice.  That way, your thirsty guests are less likely to help themselves to a swig and find the hidden cache.

Also, I can imagine a burglar who fruitlessly ransacks your home looking for the motherload, then eventually gets thirsty because of all his work.  He then goes to your fridge for some water before sneaking back out the window, and guess what he finds…

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204. Bright Idea: Pizza Vending Machine March 8, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product, Service.
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For $5-6, you can get one of 3 different 9-inch pizzas in under 2 minutes. This is gonna be huge on college campuses. And in my kitchen. Their website HERE (via TrendHunter.com).

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201. Bright Idea: Drink Cooler March 7, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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Only to be used at cocktail parties for the super-rich and/or pretentious: the Piet Hein Drink Cooler. $30 gets you one polished stainless-steel ball filled with a substance that retains and maintains the chill. Just prepare it in the freezer for an hour, and your drink stays cold and undiluted.

But be careful. Don’t try too hard to get the last sip of your drink, or else you may end up bruising your lip or chipping a tooth.

I am sure they can come up with a cheaper version (to even put in a glass of beer). Until then, I will continue to enjoy my ice, which I find fun to chew on after the drink is done. Buy it HERE (at ThinkGeek.com).

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196. Bright Idea: Oven Rack Guard March 6, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
2 comments

Last night, my wife burned her wrist on the oven rack (yet again). I need to get us this Cool Touch Oven Rack Guard.

Made out of NOMEX (a fabric firefighters use), this bright product can withstand heat up to 500 degrees F. The cost is $15 each (buy it HERE). Via AmericanInventorSpot.com.

Incidentally, my wife was roasting garbanzo beans during the self-inflicted burn. This snack is amazing: it’s a healthy, crunchy, protein treat (recipe here).

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194. Bright Idea: uWink Bistro March 5, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Experience, Food and Drink, Service, Video.
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The Idea: a techified dining experience where patrons can order food, play quick games (also with other tables), and get educated on wine tasting via computer monitors on their table. Created by Nolan Bushnell (Father of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s), the first uWink Bistro opened in LA in 2006.

Here is a quick video clip to give you an idea of the place (18 seconds):

With a monitor at the table, the potential is huge: hosting dating events; watch how your dish is cooked; learn more about your food and health; corporate team building; instant rating of dishes (see my IdeaSpark*: #41 Restaurant Menus 2.0).

Though the wait staff has been removed from the equation (thus, no tips?), the challenge for uWink will be to continue to encourage more human-to-human interaction at the table, and not replace it.

Their website (HERE) has the layout of various activity zones (including the Party Table), menus, press coverage and releases, and more information (though not many photos). Via Springwise.com.

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192. IdeaSpark*: Appetizing Aroma Candles March 4, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Experience, Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*, Product, Service.
1 comment so far

I really love the smell of delicious food: sizzling garlic, roasting meat, baking treats, cooking spices.  I love these smells more than those of lavender and summer rain.

IdeaSpark*: Produce candles that smell like certain savory dishes.

Imagine: At your dinner party, you are about to serve your meal of garlic bread and spaghetti (some of which you may have prepared and cooked earlier that evening). Before serving your guests, you light up your Garlic Lovers candle and the Basil/Oregano Italian candle.  Your guests will be appetized and your dishes will be enhanced.

Dessert candles, of course, would be just as welcome (chocolate, vanilla, baked cookies, apple pie, etc), along with the Java candle to accompany the after-dinner coffee.

And to push this idea to its limits: sommeliers would develop certain candles that would accentuate the Merlot or Pinot Grigio your guests sip on before dinner.

If these products already exist on the market, here is a business IdeaSpark*: sell each tiny candle type with an accompanying and matching recipe, so people can mix, match, and arrange an aromatic multiple-course dining experience.

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186. Quickie Web: Service: Restaurant.com February 28, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Quickie Web, Service, Website.
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Simple: punch in your zip code, then get $25 dining certificates for $10 at local restaurants.  Some restrictions apply (e.g. while supplies last, on certain nights, minimal purchases).  OK, you may not recognize some, if not most, of the joints listed.  But hey, not only do you get cheap food, you get a little adventure to some place new.  Via Newsweek.

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166. Sparked Art: Wine Arc February 12, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Art, Food and Drink, Product.
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I am calling this Art, and not a Bright product Idea, because it looks more like sculpture, to me. It doesn’t seem very pratical: one false move, and your guests get red wine spilled on them. But it still looks pretty.

Price: $23. Buy it HERE (via FreshTrend.com).

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161. Bright Idea: Jujitsu Advertising February 9, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Marketing.
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Jujitsu advertising: or at least that is what The New York Time Magazine’s 6th Annual Year in Idea issue calls it. The image below depicts one split-second frame capture of a KFC commercial (and only in that split-second does the white coupon code text appear, only to be caught by the eye with a DVR or Tivo on pause).

Concieved to encourage Tivo owners to limit their commercial skipping, this bright advertising idea led to 3 million visits to the website, and 100,000 people signing on. (Click HERE to read more).

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158. Bright Idea: the Vulcan Cooler February 7, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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For the outdoor lover: the Vulcan Rolling Cooler, with grill. For $150, you get an insulated and removable cooler, a 3-piece BBQ tool set, and a propane grill, all on wheels (I wonder if those wheels roll well on grass). Just load and go.

From PicnicTime.com (via CoolHunting.com).

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155. HumBugg: MiniBar Reservations February 4, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Experience, Food and Drink, HumBugg, Service.
1 comment so far

Cafe Atlantico’s Minibar was just voted the 5th best restaurant in Washington, DC, by Washingtonian Magazine (review here). With only 12 seats available a night, each bar-front seating of 6 has a chef preparing 30 different morsels in front the patrons.

You can only make reservations exactly one month in advance, starting at 9 AM that morning. This morning, I called the Minibar at 8:56 AM to try to reserve seats to celebrate my wife’s birthday next month, and a kind lady answered and told me to call back at 9:00. At 8:59, I called back, only to get a busy signal. Over 50 calls with busy signals (literally, from my phone alone, not counting the calls from my wife’s cell phone) and 13 minutes later, I finally got the same lady, who stated that, sorry, they were all booked up.

Bright Idea: As a restaurant, come up with a dining experience where reservations are booked instantly.

HumBugg: Making me speed dial my phone like I am trying to be the 9th caller to a radio station giving away tickets to see ‘N Sync, Elvis, and the Pope open for the premiere screening of Star Wars Episode 7.

Almost makes me want to pay the $40 fee to Primetabletables.com, a service which provides reservations to “the most sought after and exclusive restaurants in the US.” (via Springwise.com)

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151. HumBugg: Fizz-loss January 30, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*, Product.
3 comments

Two-liter bottles are cost efficient (typically at $.99 a bottle), yet the soda tends to loose carbonation as it is drunk. Here are some possible solutions to this annoying problem:

(1) Fizz-keeper Pump Cap.
(2) The Pump and Pour.

However, those two products, though they work, can require many pumps at a time, so here are some other IdeaSparks* (none are perfect):

(1) A cap with a tube and one-way valve to blow in. Due to sanitary issues, this product would be best for individuals and close families. Not good for parties.

(2) Effervescent tablets. For every quarter of empty space, add one tablet, which bubbles and pressurizes the empty space.

(3) Bottles with four quadrants. Access each of quadrants/sections one at a time.

(4) Collapsible bottles. Accordion-style, like in the picture. Make it twist, and with catch mechanisms, to prevent the gas pressure from making the bottle re-expand.

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147. IdeaSpark*: Gadget to help make the Perfect Fried Egg. January 28, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*, Product.
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I just finished eating a fried egg on some leftovers, and am reminded with how delicious the perfect fried-egg can be (to me, that’s white all-cooked, with crispy edges, and the yolk is runny; with S + P cooked in).

However, it is a lot of work to get that delicate balance. I now do the “spread the white out and then flip” method, but also have tried to cover with steam, and even once I separated the two egg parts, cooked the white first, then added the yolk later.

My IdeaSpark* is a product designed to make this task of cooking the perfect fried egg easier and quicker. When you start heating the pan to cook your egg, you also put this particular gadget in the toaster, or toaster-oven. This gadget is a DVD-sized disc of non-stick metal, with the hole in the center the size of a half-dollar (or yolk); covering the hole is a concave pyrex glass domed window.

Using a specialized heat-resistant tong, you put the heated gadget on your fried egg, and it sears the white quickly; the yolk is only slightly cooked by the steam under the glass dome. Yum!

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142. Bright Idea: Bodum Insulated Glasses January 23, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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These are among my favorite products: Bodum Double-Wall Glasses. I own a pair of these 13-ouncers. Made from borosilicate (whatever that is), it is suprisingly light and strong.

Because of the double walled (but non-vacuumed) insulation, the temperature stays relatively constant, and I don’t use coasters for my cold drinks because of negligible sweating. They are also dishwasher safe.

Bodum produces various sizes and versions, and some are perfect for all you coffee and tea drinkers (great heat-retention). Buy them HERE.

I used to drink my beer in these glasses, but now I am trying to be healthy, so I tried a new (at least to me) drink last night. I’ll call it the Sparkster (like a wine spritzer): 1/2 red wine and 1/2 lemon seltzer water, over ice. Pretty tasty and refereshing, and actually good for me.

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138. IdeaSpark*: Disposable Six-pack Chiller January 22, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*, Product.
2 comments

The Problem: Today, I visited some friends for a football game (Bears V. Saints), and I was in charge of bringing some beer. My local grocery stocks beer (gotta love VA), but the bottles are only slightly chilled. So with traveling time (30 min. in this case), my first beer at the gathering was lukewarm.

My current workaround is to have the foresight to bring a cooler with ice-packs.

The Solution: My IdeaSpark* is to have grocery stores stock disposable six-pack chillers in a freezer near the beer section.

Read on for more details…

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121. Bright Ideas: Temperature Regulating Cup Holder + the Tip N’ Sip. January 5, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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1) Left figure: Though some luxury cars have built-in cooling/warming cup holders (e.g. Sebring), you can purchase this $25 gadget to heat your drink to 140 F, or cool it to 40 F. Get it at Lillian Vernon.

2) Right figure: Keep your coffee super-heated in the Tip N’ Sip. But then tip the cup, fill the special top chamber with some of the scalding liquid, swish it around, then drink it without burning your mouth. The cup is lockable to prevent spills, and you can optionally bypass the chamber. Get it at Herrington.

Both of these Bright Ideas were found via Oh,Gizmo!

114. Bright Ideas: for Champagne December 31, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
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This gadget is perfect for uncorking champagne, especially for the New Year. I bought one for my in-laws and one for myself for the holidays. Metal spikes grab the cork, and a quick twist removes the cork with ease. For me, trying to use my thumb to pop the cork into the air was getting old.

I bought mine for $7, in store, at World Market. I can’t find it online for US shipping (UK here), but I found this similar item.

Read on for another Bright Idea for Champagne…

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108. Bright Ideas: for Tea December 29, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, Product.
2 comments

I use the IngenuiTEA dispenser everyday for my loose white tea leaves. Both white (vs. green/black) and loose (vs. bagged) tea provide increased antioxidant levels.

I add the leaves, fill her up with hot water (from my work water cooler…or you can microwave everything), then place it over my cup, where it automatically filters and dispenses the tea. Just make sure your cup can take all 16 oz, or is clear so you can see when to pause the dispensing.

Read more about it and buy it HERE (Amazon).

And for those who prefer using bagged teas, here is this handy Tea Bag Mug. Finally, a convenient place to put your tea bag: the side pocket.

I just hope the inner wall of the side pocket is partially concave so no residual water spills on your brow when you tilt the mug past horizontal to get the last drop.

Buy it here (via Slashfood.com).

104. IdeaSpark*: Macho Red Wine Beer December 24, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*.
1 comment so far

I know that a glass of red wine a day is actually good for my health, but after work, I prefer kicking back with a cold beer. And I know that beer is not good for me, and will probably just add to my expanding gut.

I wish they would come up with a more macho beverage made of red wine. Similar to a wine cooler, I guess, but bottled and marketed like beer (e.g. give it a tough name, like Ox-Blood #9). If the makers could pull it off, not only would I look manly ordering one in a bar, but I would look smart and more likely to live longer.

Even though this drink may never be thought of as macho, it may still be considered metrosexual, and I could live with that. I would drink one to wash down my skinless buffalo wings and baked tofu fries.

101. HumBugg: No Free Refills December 21, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, HumBugg, Service.
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I was eating lunch out today, and came across another bad idea: no free refills. I have come to expect free refills, especially when I am paying over a dollar for what is costing them 4 cents.

Mr. Eating Establishment, you may get your extra $.50 for a refill, or make me order a whole other drink, but you have probably lost me as a customer (unless your food is damn good, in which case I may return one day, but will only drink water).

HumBugg, and Not So Bright Idea.

95. IdeaSpark*: Office Food Carts December 16, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*, Service.
3 comments

Remember the jingle of the ice cream truck as is rolled through the neighborhood? Is it possible to recapture that feeling for adults? Maybe not, but perhaps we can try to get close.

These specialty carts visit office floors throughout the day to sell their nourishing treats. Of course, the morning cart serves coffee, bagels, and breakfast treats. Instead of the jingle, your office or cell phone rings when the cart arrives on your floor (thanks to a computer program and website you registered with), so you know to meet it, either next to the elevator or in a conference room. When you get there, you routinely shoot the breeze with fellow coworkers as you get your regular order. It is the new water cooler.

Granted, lots of workers will want to leave the office to venture to the local Starbucks. This office cart is the for the hard worker who doesn’t have the time to, or wants to stay in during nasty weather.

These vertical carts are designed to fit in elevators, and get refreshed at designated trucks parked outside. Burritos and paninis are served for lunch, smoothees in the afternoon, beer and take-home dinners at the end of the work day.

If you can’t bring Mohammed to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammed (no Danish riots, please).

90. Not so Bright Idea: the HamDog December 14, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink.
3 comments

The Hamdog is a hot dog wrapped in a beef patty that is deep fried, covered with bacon, chili, cheese and onions, and served on a hoagie bun topped with a fried egg. Served by Mulligan’s in Decatur, Georgia (from Wikipedia; via Maxim). I like to add salt and mayo to mine, dip it in hollandaise sauce, then wash it down with egg nog as I finish off a pack of Marlboro Reds.

Check out this video of chicken fried bacon (4 minute clip, but jump to 2:00 to cut to the chase; via SlashFood.com).

87. IdeaSpark*: Open House Crawl December 13, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Experience, Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*, Service, Website.
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Sunday, 1-4 pm. Typical open houses, with their lingering agents, are ineffecient and a bore. Imagine an Open House Crawl: a festive, social, and more informative way to check out open houses, with drinks and food.

Read on for more details and background…

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75. IdeaSpark*: Peanut Butter-filled Apple December 6, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*.
4 comments

Here is a quick IdeaSpark*, which occurred to me today as a friend was eating an apple. Drill holes around the flesh of an apple, then fill the holes with peanut butter, with the intent that each bite will contain some peanut butter. Seal the hole openings somehow (perhaps with hardening caramel plugs), and voila! The perfect snack. Fruit and protein. Automate this system and sell the apples online, or from a cart or supermarket.

Unless you have tasted the combo of apple and peanut butter, and love it like most people do, this IdeaSpark* may seem a little lame.

66. IdeaSpark*: Drinkable Carbonated Mouthwash November 29, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, IdeaSpark*, Product.
5 comments

I swished some seltzer water in my mouth yesterday, and it hurt so good around the gums. It felt like it was cleaning my gums and preventing canker sores from forming, but who knows. Regardless, I wonder if they can make a carbonated mouthwash that you can swallow. Similar to this product pictured (just minty water, found at PSFK), but carbonated, with natural substances to freshen your breath, like mint and baking soda or something. Once you swallow it, maybe it settles your stomach as well, somehow (with ginger and stuff).

A Google search yielded this similar patent.