I first saw this photo on the website Improbable Research with a caption of unusually granular precision: Soylent, in a bottle, in a hand, in a photo.
The photo originally came from Rob Rhinehart’s Mostly Harmless blog. Rhinehart is inventor and co-founder of Soylent, the engineered food product whose name brand seems to be an example of reverse product placement, where real products are created “to match those seen in a fictional setting.”
Our name was inspired by Harry Harrison’s 1966 science fiction novel Make Room! Make Room!, which explores the impact massive population growth could have on world resources. In the book, “soylent” is made of soy and lentils and is a new food source used to accommodate overpopulation.
Rhinehart’s food product is not made from soybeans and lentils, but choosing “Soylent” as its name is counter-intuitive branding for another reason. The name is more “commonly associated with its 1973 film adaptation Soylent Green, in which the eponymous food supplement is made from human remains.”
It’s those connotations of undeclared cannibalistic ingredients, that make Soylent such a surprising name choice for a fledgling brand. It might be the case, however, that whatever doesn’t kill your brand, makes it stronger.
For a certain demographic, bad connotations can be a good thing. (See: Toxic Waste Candy or Rattenkiller) Thus, the idea of a real-world Soylent can be fun. Such consumers will humorously riff on the question of a secret ingredient: Is Soylent Green?
(More about Soylent, after the fold…)
In the movie, Soylent products were differentiated by color. In addition to “Green” there were also “Red” and “Yellow” incarnations of the product.
Rhinehart’s Soylent product is given software-style updates. The box and pouch pictured above contain Soylent 1.5; the bottle at the top the page contains Soylent 2.0.
See also: Five Formerly Fictional Products