We are by nature wary of any nitrous oxide-propelled food product, a pressurized canned food prejudice that we blame squarely on one too many corn syrup and artificial flavor-laden Reddi Wip mustaches as kids. And so when it first hit stores a few years ago, we politely ignored the Batter Blaster, a pancake batter that comes in a can and toots its all-natural, organic, really-tastes-like-a-homemade pancake horn (as well as its CO² propulsion mechanism). But when we heard the Austin-based company is debuting three new flavors — chocolate, whole wheat cinnamon-brown sugar and buttermilk — how could we not circle back? Not to worry, canned bacon fans, those bacon pancake rumors aren't false. A company spokesperson said they have plans to release the bacon version later this year.
Obvious oxymoron aside (all-natural food in a can?), perhaps they're better than they sound. Regardless of taste, it's impossible not to wonder how we got to aerosol breakfast dishes in the first place.
Owner Sean O'Connor says he was experimenting with various whipped cream flavors one day when it dawned on him to make jet-propelled pancake batter. Sure, why not?
Not that getting Reddi Wip-averse consumers like us to try Batter Blaster has been easy. The problem, as BNet's Kathryn Hawkins pointed out recently, has been how in the world do you market a product that has no market to begin with? Cheez Whiz devotees are probably not going to care about that organic, all-natural angle, nor can we quite envision the Whole Foods mom deciding that spray can pancakes are better than the homemade ones her nanny makes every weekend. And yet, when we searched for store locations near us, it turns out the Batter Blaster is in our neighborhood Whole Foods. And Ralph's, Albertson's and Smart and Final. Quite a broad retail spread for a product that started out without a niche — particularly one that some might argue is somewhat disturbing (check back later this month as we taste-through the new flavors).
That O'Connor is the consummate entrepreneur no doubt has something to do with his success. That, and making Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes is easy when all you have to do is point and shoot. According to CNN, he grossed $15 million in 2009, several million more in 2010. Clever marketing stunts like making 76,382 pancakes to set the Guinness record for “most pancakes made in 8 hours” and now, the three new flavor additions, have been key to his quick rise to the top.
O'Connor is also rather savvy when it comes to portraying that perfect “pancake guy” image. In a Forbes article called “A CEO's Tips on How to Appear on TV Shows,” O'Connor gave this advice to fellow corporate types when they appear on programs like the Today show: “People who have height or girth (I'm 6-foot-3) should think small and put the host between themselves and the camera. A big CEO can look like he's going to eat the often slight host.” Even more so if you happen to be hungry for pancakes, we presume.
Or hungry, as we are, for the day when something that is actually time-consuming to prepare — pâte à choux, croissants, sourdough bread — can be whipped up in minutes. Last we checked, your basic pancake batter takes all of five minutes to make. Right. So does whipped cream.