Perhaps the best Thanksgiving feast in all of make-believe is Willy Wonka’s Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum. Pop in a single stick and enjoy an entire meal, start to finish, with none of the calories, mess, or family relations. But if you remember Violet Beauregarde, who tested a prototype of the Wonka wonder, well, she turns violet. And then blows up. We at WIRED—being self-preservationists—would like to spare ourselves such a fate, but at the same time—being constant seekers of next-gen fare—would still like to enjoy a futuristic meal. So as we plan our Thanksgiving 2.0s, we’ve turned to other, marginally safer science fiction properties for inspiration. Here’s what’s on WIRED’s Thanksgiving menu, circa the year 3000.
Replicated Food (Star Trek)
Let’s be honest. Thanksgiving food, in many families, is not always exactly as you would wish it. Maybe the turkey is dry, or someone made regular stuffing when you wanted cornbread, or all the vegetables were boiled into a soggy gray mush. You know where this would never happen? A Federation starship (Enterprise-D onwards, anyway). Star Trek’s replicators use transporter technology to create just about any inanimate object out of either pure energy or inorganic goo, depending on who you ask. The food is always perfectly cooked, always what you wanted, always cruelty-free and nutritionally balanced, because you programmed it that way. Plus, nobody needs to do the dishes. Just put them back in the replicator, and make them re-materialize as dessert. —Emma Grey Ellis
Bowl of Snot (The Matrix)
The crew of the Nebuchadnezzar calls it many things. Breakfast of champions. Bowl of snot. It tastes like runny eggs. Or Tasty Wheat. What it actually is, as Dozer explains, is “a single-celled protein combined with synthetic aminoes, vitamins, and minerals—everything the body needs.” Swoon, self-optimizing, Soylent-sucking techies of the world! But seriously: I don’t recommend this mass-market subsistence porridge for the texture (wet) or flavor (wet). Use it, instead, as a conversation-starting thought experiment in perceptual relativity, as Mouse does in the film. What is flavor? Is my Tasty Wheat your tuna? What does chicken—or turkey: the great aunt of chicken, in flavor as well as essence—taste like? Better yet, serve it as a palate cleanser between courses, the better to appreciate the abundance of culinary opportunity our robot overlords have kindly coded into the reality-distorting subprogram we call Thanksgiving. —Jason Kehe
Porgs (Star Wars)
Travel to Iceland and you’ll come back with a love of two things: hot dogs, because they’re cheap and everywhere, and puffins, because they’re adorable (and everywhere). What does this have to do with porgs? you ask. Funny story. Outside of Iceland, puffins also inhabit Skellig Michael, the island that served as the set for Ahch-To in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While Rian Johnson was filming there, it became impossible to keep the cute little animals out of every shot, so creature concept designer Jake Lunt Davies created porgs so Johnson could leave stray puffins in the background of various scenes. Porgs quickly became fan favorites—and, in one scene in The Last Jedi, Chewbacca’s dinner option. Despite the fact that he eats it while several crying porgs look on in horror, his crispy bird does look kind of delicious. Chewie cooks his over an open flame, but we imagine if they were brined, covered with butter and rosemary, and put in the oven, they’d be perfect. Though one look at a crying porg would definitely send us off to find the nearest hot dog. —Angela Watercutter
Red Kibble (The Expanse)
White kibble is comfort food for Belters—that is, human beings who live in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It’s some kind of extruded-soy-fungus protein stuff, vaguely rice-like, squeeks like cheese curds when you chew it. Deee-licious. But if you want an even more authentically Belter holiday, and you do, red kibble is what to bring through the airlock and place on the magnetic table for your on-the-float feast. What’s in it? Errr … probably white kibble, but with some kind of red, spicy sauce. Presumably spices, plants, or oils heavy on the capsaicin and sulfur compounds are easier to grow in a hydroponics bay dug out of an asteroid, or just export from Earth. (If intersystem war has broken the trade routes, black marketeers can probably help.) There’s no way to know for sure, but I bet red kibble would be good on a Triscuit. —Adam Rogers
Protein Bars (Snowpiercer)
Protein blocks are a post-apocalyptic and space opera staple, the meat and potatoes of extremity. There’s Soylent Green, but also Luke’s rations in Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back, and the emergency algae cakes in Battlestar Galactica, and the dehydrated tablets that fuel the food synthesizers in Star Trek: The Original Series, and the brown lumps that, in Firefly, are worth killing for. Of all these bars, the one I’d most like to sink my dystopian teeth into—based mostly on its looks—is what Snowpiercer serves its poorest citizens. To me, the brownish bars look like blocks of red bean jelly, which I would subsist on happily. (I imagine that, at the end of the world, the power of suggestion is strong with everyone.) Sure, Chris Evans’ Curtis finds their ingredients (a spoiler) gross, but I can’t imagine why, because dude also admits to eating a human baby. At worst, they probably taste like picky eaters getting over themselves, which I’d prefer to the taste of an actual picky eater. —Emma Grey Ellis
Rehydrated Fast Food (Spy Kids)
Half the appeal of popcorn, of course, is the phase transition. That moment when kernel explodes into flake, small becomes big, matter is inverted. Wow! But … it’s still only popcorn. (Yes, only popcorn. It’s a mediocre foodlike thing, at best.) The first Spy Kids, a minor classic, imagined an entire meal as pop-able. Put the colored packet in the microwave—called the Rehydrator, though it just sorta zaps it—and a second later your picture-perfect hamburger is ready to serve. Not the most homemade of Thanksgiving courses, perhaps, but the fun here is the experience, the party trick, the moment of gathering around the Rehydrator with your younger cousins so you can watch them squeal at the moment of transformation. Food as magic. And where does the plastic wrapping go? Is it incorporated into the rehydrated food? Is the unrehydrated packet edible? These are questions the kids will ask. Have answers ready. —Jason Kehe
OK, what is Romulan ale, though? In the Star Trek universe it’s illegal on Earth, served in large bottles, and regarded with a certain wariness that suggests it’s very potent, maybe even containing something more psychoactive than mere alcohol. But if it’s an ale, what kind of yeast makes it? Why doesn’t it have foam? Why is it blue? Oh, it’s a distillation of some Romulan fruit, you say? But none of the molecules that give plants their color make it through the distillation process—at least, not the one we know on Earth. Anyway, go ahead and serve it—if you’re willing to mediate interspecies political arguments. Romulan ale makes people mean.
But for guests who for reasons of biology or belief do not imbibe psychoactives, I suggest a liquid almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. The Nutri-Matic dispenser machines of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books make the best version (after scanning your taste buds and brains to create a perfectly calibrated beverage). Try it iced, why don’t you?
The Hitchhikerverse reminds me that you might think about offering Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters as a pre-dinner cocktail—the Ol’ Janx Spirit base helps erase the telekinetic powers of guests uncouth enough to be planning party tricks, and who doesn’t like the feeling of having one’s brains smashed out by a gold brick wrapped in a slice of lemon?
Honestly, a science-fictional mixologist can do better. Here’s what you do: Get yourself to Arrakis, the planet colloquially known as Dune, and find a baby sandworm. You might have to fight one of the big ones. Anyway, the Fremen drown theirs in recycled water, but we’re going to kill that baby in a punchbowl full of champagne. Throw in some ice, serve with Melange-rimmed glasses. Goes down easy, and everyone’s the messiah by the time dessert’s on the table. —Adam Rogers
Harvested Worms (Blade Runner 2049)
If the future we get is the future we deserve, then, in one sense, it’s already arrived. Around the world, more than 2 billion people currently feast on 6- and 16-legged creepy-crawly creatures, supplementing their diets with caterpillars, grasshoppers, cicadas, wasps, and beetles. In fact, in 2013, the United Nations released a report in which it encouraged the adoption of bug eating as a way to help curb world hunger; many of the insects are “rich in protein, good fats and high in calcium, iron and zinc,” the report noted. (Insects also emit less greenhouse gasses than the farm animals we love to dine on, so there’s that too.) Thirty years from now, in the crumbling dystopia of Blade Runner 2049, worms are genetically harvested as a major food source, and for good reason—remember, this particular future is not about private pleasures but efficiency. As someone who works out more than necessary and drinks an ungodly amount of protein shakes in a given week (gotta keep those gains up!), this actually doesn’t sound that bad. Add some hot sauce, maybe a dash of salt, and voilà—breakfast of champions. —Jason Parham
Soylent Green (Soylent Green)
C’mon. Did you really think we were going to do a list of future foods from sci-fi and not include the most nefarious of them all? I mean … wait, what’s that? Soylent green is people? Oh, never mind. We’re nerds, not monsters. —Angela Watercutter
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