February 6, 2006

Meat Cubes

Back in August a reader named Margaret felt the name "meatballs" was too obvious and asked if we could come up with something more imaginative. That post is here.

In one of the responses, Keith hypothesized that one day meatballs would eventually become cubes to make them easier to ship. He named these "Carcass Cubes."

In response to Keith's idea, I received the following email the other day:

Hi Steve,

Ok, while I'm waiting for my subject to finish her computer test and reading some older the Sneeze, I came across the term 'Carcass Cubes' in the blowjob/blow job/blow-job and naming meat topic of august 26.

I'm happy to announce that we, the Dutch, or more specifically some dutch spicing company called Silvo, can now actually make these cubical meatballs, which, I know, sounds like a contradictio in terminis, but we really can.

The most peculiar thing is that the people at Silvo actually claim is that it would be easier to create these Carcass Cubes and they would even taste better.

How in the h... does shape influence taste when you're using the same cooking materials? Since when do cubes taste better than spheres? Maybe the beloved readers of the Sneeze can answer this...

anyway, click and be amazed:

cheers,
Jeroen

Can shape alone influence taste? Do cubes taste better than spheres? The comment board is NOW CLOSED, but still readable.

(And don't miss the meat cube commercial.)



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Posted by Steven | Archive
Comments

DUDE! Check out the video at the bottom!

Oh, and I'd opine that the only thing that would be influenced is the mode in which you eat the meat "thing." With balls, I am inclined to put the entire thing in my mouth at once because, unlike meat cubes, they do not have pointy corners. I'd probably cut the corners off of the cube then eat it whole.

Posted by: James at February 6, 2006 9:37 AM

This reminds me of those square watermelons someone was growing a few years ago (with the intention of making them fit better in refrigerators).

There aren't a lot of cubed foods on the market. Sugar and tofu come to mind, and I can't say I ever paid much attention to the taste/shape ratio.

But what would spaghetti and meatballs be like without the thrilling risk of a renegade meatball rolling into your lap?

Meat cubes just seem so... Uptight.

Posted by: Segue at February 6, 2006 9:37 AM

mein gott.
is it me, or is that just a big ole slab of meatloaf? look at your bean-to-meatball/cube ratio. sadly, i think this is not the cubic equivalent of the meatball (show me a dozen nestled in noodles, and then we'd be talking). more of a minced beef rubix cube.

the meatball cube is yet to have its day.

Posted by: joy at February 6, 2006 9:38 AM

I can't imagine why they'd taste better, but the only thing would be that given the same volume of meat, it would have more surface area when formed into a cube rather than a sphere. if it had more surface area, it would be able to have more contact to any sauce you'd cook with, this allowing it to 'taste better'.

Well, that's my theory, at least.

Posted by: Ralph at February 6, 2006 9:39 AM

Good catch on the commericial, James. I added the link in the post.

Posted by: Steve at February 6, 2006 9:40 AM

I think it's the same deal with the whole green and purple ketchup (catsup). We're just used to spheres...tasted could be identical...it's just...not the same ya know. Anywho, I think I'll stick to my sherical meat products. Thanks though. :D

Posted by: Jehremy at February 6, 2006 9:45 AM

Really now, I'm looking at this picture thinking about the logistics.

First off-- with classic meatballs, you've got the whole napkin-tucked-in-the-collar bit going for you, the challenge of getting them on your fork (which is much easier than sticking a fork into grapes... that's just fucking impossible), etc. This makes eating so much easier!

Secondly-- and maybe it's just the picture tricking me-- but it looks like something I'd need to cut up and eat in smaller pieces in order to feel proper.

Regardless of the taste, meatcubes scare the shit out of me.

On a related note-- did anybody ever have sphere-cut-canteloupe as a kid or during a picnic? That always made it so much more fun to eat!

Posted by: Ian at February 6, 2006 9:46 AM

Maybe it's only me (I?), but the better a meatball is browned on its surfaces, the better I like it. Maybe the fact that a meatbox can be browned more evenly and easily on its six sides than a meatball makes it more appetizing. No gray areas, as it were, either, so it might be more aesthetically pleasing as well.

Posted by: golfwidow at February 6, 2006 9:48 AM

but what if they're just glorified, miniature meat loaves?

Posted by: michael at February 6, 2006 9:54 AM

so if cubes are supposedly better (as i'm assuming "de beste bal is vierkant" means), why are there spheres of potatoes behind the big cube of meat?

i agree with those that think it looks like a big honkin' meatloaf cube.

Posted by: rach at February 6, 2006 9:56 AM

Ralph hit the nail on the head. It's all about surface area versus volume. A sphere minimizes the surface area which in turn minimized the amount of yummy sauce you can drench them with. The less-effecient cube would then allow a larger surface and subsequently a larger amount of sauce.

I've had this discussion about wings versus legs at BW3 - the same ratio's skew as the overall volume increases, even if the basic shape stays the same. That is, wings allow more sauce per volume than legs.

Golfwidow's point about browning is a great observation, as well!

Posted by: bean at February 6, 2006 10:09 AM

i agree with golfwidow. the cube could allow for more/better carmalization of the meat. i always call an end piece when we're having meatloaf for the same reason.

the dutch are similar to the swedes, no? and swedish meatballs aren't usually served with noodles, so maybe dutch meatboxes aren't meant to be served with noodles....

also, no one has mentioned the building block factor yet, so i thought i'd mention it. think how many carcass cubes you could stack on a paper plate at a pot-luck dinner! way more than a plate of balls.

Posted by: kensey at February 6, 2006 10:10 AM

This reminds me of an old saying among architects- "There are no 90 degree angles in nature." Of course there are exceptions, but I think that round should stay. Besides, I would think that the corners would dry out more rapidly on a carcass cube than they would on a smeat sphere.

Posted by: Distichlis at February 6, 2006 10:14 AM

what would be the point of "on top of spaghetti all cover with cheese i lost my poor meatball when somebody sneeeeeezed it rolled off the table and onto the floooooor and then my poor meatball rolled out the back doooor"...and so on Im sure you all know the song, some how it just isnt right to have cubed meat...squares, if you want square meat eat meat loaf

Posted by: Mallory at February 6, 2006 10:15 AM

Dear Lord! Please don't call them "meatboxes" !!!

I will say this: I like the idea of putting corners on the meatball. What a wonderful introduction to my tongue. A single and perfect point of delicious meatiness to savor right before I bite right in!!

Posted by: Kerry at February 6, 2006 10:17 AM

Looks like a Meat-Borg!

(dear god, a Star Trek reference. sorry)

Posted by: Kerry at February 6, 2006 10:19 AM

Going one step further (combining the cube with alternately colored ketchup) I propose a Rubik's meat cube!

Posted by: NKB at February 6, 2006 10:24 AM

Who buys their meatballs, anyways? Anyone who values their body and nutrition would never use store bought , pre-packaged meatballs. Make them yourself. Hey, you could make meat sculptures. Look for me and my meat sculptures in the next Bon Appetite.

Posted by: Pierre Le Beouf at February 6, 2006 10:26 AM

ha hahahhahahhahahhaha.

you will be assimilated to a square hunk of beef.

resistance is futile.

embrace the borg-ness

Posted by: amanda f. at February 6, 2006 10:42 AM

Well, it seems like with a "ball" there is more chance for the natural meat flavors to escape from the tight-packed meat area. However, with a cube, perhaps the flavor just flows nicely in on itself.

Actually, I just think the Dutch are arrogant bastards who think they have the corner on savory meat products.

Is there no end to their villainy?

Posted by: Tevin at February 6, 2006 10:42 AM

Personally I cannot read or say "meatbox" without feeling really, really dirty.

Also I think the next logical step is the meat pyramid. Perhaps the Egyptians will oblige.

Posted by: Mir at February 6, 2006 10:54 AM

I am a scientist and researcher at a major US food corporation. We've actually looked into this.

While a sphere-shaped object may be easier to swallow, a cube's texture offers sensory variations that increase the enjoyment of consumption, as well as different aesthetic parameters in terms of presentation.

That being said, cultural preferences for spherical or oblong itmes (which also appear more 'natural') favors them over cubed items, which may offer efficiencies in packaging and shipping but which seem at the best comical and at the worse artificial, thus limiting their marketing potential.

Carl

Posted by: Carl at February 6, 2006 10:56 AM

Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch 9no offense to those who wear bunched-up panties) aren't these just mini-meatloafs?

Posted by: Carsten at February 6, 2006 11:10 AM

They would taste better because they would provide more surface area for browing and coating with sauce. For the same reason that french fries taste different from, say Tater-Tots. Aside from thefact that Tater-Tots taste like shit no matter what you do to them.

Posted by: Dougthedog at February 6, 2006 11:16 AM

I think we have found a new "Steve, Don't Eat It!"

Posted by: Ryan at February 6, 2006 11:21 AM

Kensey- brilliant! The building block factor! With the ability to line up the edges, there will be so much less wasted space!

It also makes me think of some potential cultural benefits... here in Minnesnowta (land of the ice and snow), an enormous ice castle is built in St. Paul.

I'm imagining a giant meatbox castle in Amsterdam...

Posted by: Ian at February 6, 2006 11:26 AM

I'm pretty sure my wif get pissed at me for eating a meatbox.

If there's one thing that Cosmo Kramer taught me about meat, it's that surface area is good. As the K-man says, "...there's no place for the flavor to hide!"

No discussion of meat products would be complete without an obligatory:

MEAT PACK!

Posted by: bigD at February 6, 2006 11:32 AM

First: Hahahaha... Meatbox.
Second: I agree with the surface area argument. I've been making that case applied to rippled potato chips for years. Which logically leads to... Rippled Meat Chips for maximum surface area, and therefore ultimate enjoyment potential. MMMM... Rippled meat....

Posted by: Dee S. Nutts at February 6, 2006 11:34 AM

I always prefered the taste of round.

Posted by: Contagion at February 6, 2006 11:49 AM

While a sphere clearly minimizes the surface area to volume ratio, a cube does not maximize it. How about some meat shaped like heat sinks? If done properly, such meat could be packed with high efficiently as well.

In related news, I have a vauge notion that fractal theory provides for a purely theoretical meat with an infiniate flavor ratio.

Posted by: m1 at February 6, 2006 11:58 AM

With respect to heat sunk meat packs and infinite flavor ratios:

IN!

Posted by: bigD at February 6, 2006 12:06 PM

ALL YOUR MEAT ARE BELONG TO CUBE!

Posted by: bigD at February 6, 2006 12:07 PM

I personally feel that the best tasting shape is the octaganal prism, but until mankind reaches the true level of tastosity needed to realize that, we will all have to suffer with substandard spheres.... too bad....

Posted by: XS at February 6, 2006 12:07 PM

The article say's it weighs in at 500g. That's one huge meatball/box (over a pound; for you folks that can't get out of the dark ages).

Does anyone else envision the factory that makes these?

Trucks of cows walking in one end. The constant muffled bangs from "humane killers", the high-pitched whine of industrial grinders, and meatboxen plopping out the other end into plastic bags.

Posted by: Frac at February 6, 2006 12:08 PM

I have long been a proponent of the surface area:volume ratio being of critical importance to food taste. That is why Crispy Crowns kick Tater Tot ass every day.

That said, meatboxes are still not the appropriate vehicular form for a trip to Flavor Country. Patties -- a la White Castle, with holes, naturally -- will offer the best combination of surface area:volume ratio, sauce carriage, and fork-friendliness.

Posted by: RN at February 6, 2006 12:14 PM

More testicles means more iron!

Posted by: James at February 6, 2006 12:15 PM

Oh, and Frac--

I think that the article (I don't know Dutch, but I know some German, kinda close) says that it's four "ballen" (boxes) to 500g. Still -- quarter-pound meatbox, anyone?

Posted by: RN at February 6, 2006 12:23 PM

That makes me uncomfortable to look at. Like some kind of deli slasher flick gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Posted by: Taunia at February 6, 2006 12:23 PM

After reading this, I have decided to make some meatboxes for dinner. Sausage based, with cheese and Bisquik filler, baked and then seared on all SIX sides.

m1: please develop and market a fractal meat mold.

MEAT PACK

Posted by: bean at February 6, 2006 12:29 PM

bean,

Fax me some meatboxes, but please label it as something more wife friendly, like 'square poop".

Anyone else curious about what the sauce is on the meatbox in the picture. It looks like some greasy salisbury steak sauce from a TV dinner to me.

Or maybe some dried blood.

Posted by: bigD at February 6, 2006 12:40 PM

Hello!!

Six sides o' flavor = Six sides o' FUN!

Posted by: torres#3 at February 6, 2006 12:46 PM

I highly enjoy the name "meatbox." I think that the Dutch could've stumbled upon what may very well be the most innovative hamburger ever. If it worked for White Castle to have square patties, imagine the possibilities for cubes! The buns would be box shaped with a hinged lid, and the burger would be eaten like an apple until the last bite where all you're left with is just straight meaty goodness. Or alternatively, the burger could be squewered and eaten like a candy apple. Delicious.

Posted by: Meredith at February 6, 2006 12:52 PM

wow. people are getting creative with this whole "meatbox" thing...

but it is pretty cool.

Posted by: janice at February 6, 2006 12:58 PM

In the case of Trix, the shape DOES change the flavor. Once they went from the little puffs to the fruit shapes, the cereal began to taste like crap.

Meatballs around the world should fear the cube!

Posted by: melissa at February 6, 2006 1:00 PM

"Actually, I just think the Dutch are arrogant bastards who think they have the corner on savory meat products."
Pun intended?


Okay, frst of all, I don't speak Dutch, so can someone explain to me the clog splitting open? Would it even make sense if the commercial was translated? Probably not. Just wondering.

Second, I read a really good Dean Koontz book (I think it was called Lightning, but I get them all mixed up) not too long ago. There was an autistic guy in it & he would ONLY eat square things. Unless it was cake, that didn't count. But before he would eat anything his brother would cut off the corners (if need be) & cut everything into nice little squares so he could eat it. Now, he'll finally be able to enjoy meatballs. Although really, I agree with everyone else, that's not a meatball as we know meatballs to be. Or a square version of one anyway. That's just some sort of meatloaf-type cube. It's not even on spaghetti! & in my opinion, it looks rather unappetizing...

If you want more sauce, you just need to make smaller meatballs/cubes/pyriamids/whatever other shape you want. I think the edges would get burnt easy on a cube, I think the spheres would be easier to evenly brown myself.

On another note, I had a debate at work today about whether or not 'fudgey' was a word. Isn't it? How else do you describe warm, delicious, gooey brownies that are much like fudge?

Posted by: Alyssa at February 6, 2006 1:01 PM

I forgot something.
I think that the novelty of the meatcube would be fun for a while, but soon enough we'd all just want our balls backs. Anything in a different size or shape than usual always tastes better. Like mini muffins. Mmm...

Posted by: Alyssa at February 6, 2006 1:03 PM

*back

Posted by: Alyssa at February 6, 2006 1:03 PM

Well, being dutch myself, I feel I have a keen knowlege on the subject. I think shape does have everything to do with it (hello, the supremeness of Wendy's square burger patty to McDonald's round/oblong one). I also think food coloring makes a difference as well.

Does anyone remember green ketchup? Yeah, I didn't think so, cause it was disgusting.

Posted by: TheIdleReceptionist at February 6, 2006 1:31 PM

I find the different shapes of macaroni/spaghetti/spirally-shell shaped thingies taste different, even though it's the same wheaty stuff inside. So why can't meatballs taste different from meatcubes?

But then, would the cooking instructions include "fry 30 seconds on each side"? Why not pyramids, meat pyramids?

Posted by: Natasha at February 6, 2006 1:36 PM

Alyssa - I think fudgey is an appropriate adjective.

And THANKS. Now I want a warm, delicious, fucking gooey, fudge(y/like) brownie.

Posted by: TheIdleReceptionist at February 6, 2006 1:38 PM

"Isn't that just a small meatloaf?"

Ugh...

Aren't regular meatballs just small, rounded meatloafs? Isn't meatloaf just a larger, loaf-shaped meatball? Aren't hambugers just larger, flatter shaped meatballs? Isn't taco meat just ground up meatballs with taco seasoning?

(etc)

Posted by: matt at February 6, 2006 1:38 PM

Ugh. It looks like a stock cube. It practically Screams "MADE IN A FACTORY". I like a food product that at least tries to look like it was made by a person who cares. ... actually I prefer to always make my own - but you get the idea. It looks fake. I mean, it might have been made by frikin Chen Kenichi for all I know but it really does look like it's been squeezed out by a TX.4200Turbo-O-Matic to me.

Gimme hand made, no artificial ingredients, real food any day babeh.

... and tell the Iron Chefs to lay off the roe and the goose liver ... bleck...

Posted by: Moggity at February 6, 2006 2:02 PM

Actually further to what I said before - if robots could crap this would totally be what it'd look like.

Posted by: Moggity at February 6, 2006 2:03 PM

Alyssa - the splitting clog is a visual representation of a dutch adverb that roughly translates to "now breaks my clog" which is an expression of surprise/amazement felt after something totally unexpected happens. Not very subtle at all but neither are the cubes :)

Posted by: G at February 6, 2006 2:08 PM

There are so many things wrong with that.

Posted by: Margaret at February 6, 2006 2:17 PM

why is the idea of a cube so much more appalling than sphere. so any people have said that the cube just isn't normal. well, since when did meat naturally come in bite-sized spheres? i think that the idea of a cubic meat ball is kinda cool. but then again, i have no clue what the hell i'm talking about. word up

Posted by: austin at February 6, 2006 2:33 PM

Ooo! Ooo!

The ham-Borg-er!

Posted by: Frac at February 6, 2006 2:58 PM

Definitely- I love pasta but can't stand just straight spaghetti/angel hair because I don't like the way it feels in my mouth. Not a huge fettucini person, either, but I'll eat it.

Posted by: Victoria at February 6, 2006 3:01 PM

We have had square scoops of ice cream on an ice cream cone. The taste wasn't very different, but it sure did melt off the cone a whole lot faster.

How does Bubblicious(sp?) stack up against a regular gum ball?

Why are the hamburger patties at Wendy's square? I think it's so you get four extra bites with every burger.

Posted by: the entire state of washington at February 6, 2006 3:43 PM

Am I the only one who thinks immediately of dog food? That's just what it looks like to me. The liquidy/blotchy looking sauce reinforces that image.

And on the subject of shape and appearance tasting better - Every little kid knows that sandwiches cut into four pieces (with no crusts) are WAY better than ones cut into two.

Posted by: Lauren at February 6, 2006 3:58 PM

Ew.
Personally, I find something odd and unappealing about meatball "cubes."
I would much rather have them stay balls.
Yum.

Posted by: Leigha at February 6, 2006 4:04 PM

Maybe this was mentioned already, but...did you see the little yellow plastic mold in the ad? Cute little square - like from a baby's set of stack toys.

Which got me thinking...they also make these little gems in heart and stars. But who has the time to fuss-budget with chopped meat? Pushing them in, pulling them out....you know they're gonna stick. ACK!

Roll 'em up and plop 'em in the pan & be done with it....Let's eat!

Posted by: EmJay at February 6, 2006 4:17 PM

All I have to say is if their making meat cubes with that kind of precision, they definately aren't using the classic tool called the hand....

Posted by: John at February 6, 2006 4:26 PM

While I thnk that the idea of making square meatballs is at least logical, it doesn't seem like there is a disaster in the meatball shipping market. The only problem i have with these is that they seem so manufactured that i would have a hard time putting them in my mouth. They're probably no more manufactured then premade meatballs but still, they gross me out. Finally, the name carcass cubes still makes me smile.

Posted by: Adam at February 6, 2006 4:59 PM

I would say that having a square piece of meat clunking around in your mouth, chewing it, gulping it down, would taste different than the round meatball. Simply because you'd probably have to work more on chewing the square one -- so you'd get more flavor. Maybe this isn't a good thing.

Most meatballs I've met have been drenched in BBQ sauce and believe me, it's much better if you can quickly split the thing in half with your tongue and swallow.

Also, the meatboxes wouldn't look nearly as cute as meatballs when presented to guests on a silver serving tray with toothpicks sticking out of them.

This is why I hate Wendy's hamburgers. Too pointy.

6 sided heat-sink ham-borg-er meatboxes. In hinged buns. With BBQ sauce. I'm sure McDonald's is working on the patent.

Posted by: sanantonerose at February 6, 2006 5:20 PM

Those wacky dutch. If you think this is an amazing bit 'o food engineering, try to wrap your tongue around the concept of Bitterballen (sp?). I had some whilst in Amsterdam this past December and the concept of deep fried balls of gravy (yup, gravy) was too intriguing to pass up. Excellent, in a bizzare "What the hell?" kind of way. I think they would be an excellent accompaniment to the cubicle meatbulbs.

Posted by: Poopsmith's Apprentice at February 6, 2006 6:02 PM

erm... oh, yeah!

Posted by: ade at February 6, 2006 6:13 PM

I love the commercial, it's hard to decide which i'd prefer, I'll try again when I'm hungry.

Posted by: Chase Alvins at February 6, 2006 6:40 PM

The Japanese swear that depending on how you slice the cucumber, the taste is different. But they think eating natto is a great idea, so who knows what genetic issues their tastebuds have.

Personally, I'll take a meatball over a cube.

Posted by: Dave at February 6, 2006 6:54 PM

As an Eyetalian, it's hard to imagine what kind of food piker would pine for a square meatball. You just know it's processed garbage and few notches up from Alpo. Please people, stop ordering spaghetti at the diner and if you got a hankering for some square meat play it safe and stick to the SPAM. . .

Posted by: Ballzout at February 6, 2006 7:10 PM

There's absolutely no way that cubes taste better than balls. Ask any woman...

But seriously, a cube of meat like that just isn't appetizing, and the look of the food could potentially impact taste by setting up a predisposition in one's mind about what the food will taste like. We all know what meatballs look like, and we all have a sense of what a meatball is going to taste like.

That cube looks like SPAM, so I think to myself before eating it, "I bet this tastes like SPAM." And SPAM is gross, unless you like that sort of thing...

Posted by: Ben at February 6, 2006 7:11 PM

Hahahaha.... meatbox.

Larger surface area => higher rate of cooling. Do you like your meat cold?

Posted by: Colin's Hot Sister at February 6, 2006 7:52 PM

In case anyone was wondering what "Die beste bal ist vierkant!" means, it's direct translation is "The best ball is square!" Just in case anyone didn't figure it out.

Posted by: Nick at February 6, 2006 7:55 PM

How about a meat object shaped like Gabriel's Horn (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/GabrielsHorn.html)? It has finite volume but infinite surface area. Just think about how infinitely delicious it would be!

Posted by: Lanigironu at February 6, 2006 7:58 PM

Jeroen can type "blow job" but not "hell"??

Posted by: flush it all away at February 6, 2006 8:24 PM

Being a science major, I'm going to insert my 2 pennies here and say that yes, actually, shape does indeed influence taste. For example, sugar, or sucrose, is sweet because the molecules are a specific shape, and therefore stimulate certain taste receptors on our tongues. Salt crystals are cubical in nature, and it is this very cubical shape (I believe) that stimulates the salty receptors. On the other hand, you might argue that taste is based not only on sweet/sour/salty etc., but also on smell. Well, smells really depend on the shape of the molecule too. So in essence, yes, shape does influence taste--on a microscopic level.

In the case of the oxymoronic cubed meatballs, I doubt that the general overall packaging will do much to affect the palate. But who knows, presentation is a big deal if you're talking strict culinary standards. Personally, regardless of the polygonal nature of the meat, if it came from the dormitory kitchens, I doubt it'll matter much at all...

Posted by: winter at February 6, 2006 8:28 PM

On the cube food front, while working in a kitchen shop a couple of years back, I can across this fantastic gizmo which, I swear to god, cubes EGGS. Yes, hard boiled eggs can be cubed in this little device - and it actually works, because I've tried it, although only once as I have very little use for cubed food. I believe the intention was to keep deviled eggs from becoming airborn at family picnics (with grandma, of course) rather than to affect the flavor of the egg. But, I must confess, that the one time I did cube an egg, I couldn't bring myself to eat it because it was just too weird. Perhaps this is why the Egg Cuber is no longer on the market.
Cheers!

Posted by: .megan. at February 6, 2006 8:33 PM

If the meat is the same, in theory it shouldn't affect the taste at all. But since first impressions are everything, if the "meat cube" vaguely disgusts you (as it vaguely disgusts ME), you will probably be turned off to it. In that case, meatballs are probably the better way to go.

Is anyone else picturing "meat cubes" lined up in a 9x13 pan, all butting up against each other? It's unnatural, dammit.

And I'm with you, flush it all away:
"Jeroen can type "blow job" but not "hell"??"
Guess it's something about the Dutch.

Posted by: Rusty at February 6, 2006 8:42 PM

A bit off-topic, but still related, I recently saw in a store here in San Francisco a egg press that's used to press your hard-boiled eggs into cubes. Perhaps it makes the eggs taste better, too?

Posted by: yatdave at February 6, 2006 9:10 PM

I agree with the second comment! It's merely a slab of meatloaf cut in half! It's huge!

IF is was a smaller size and there were more = meatcubes, The only advantage taste wise would come from frying them, because it would be easier to evenly cook each surface area.
Imagine the posibillities for rectangle sausages! It would revolutionize the breakfast!!

Posted by: edam at February 6, 2006 9:48 PM

lmao@"ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO CUBE." hahahahaha!

Anyways, the meat cube may have looked more appeasing if not presented in a pile of it's own ooze.

If you disregard the brown sludge beneath it and look closely: It looks like a piece of unfrosted cake!

BARF

Posted by: Tabitha at February 6, 2006 10:09 PM

On a side note; I make heart-shaped meatloaf for Valentine's Day (verrrry romantic and sexy, I know) and it definitely tastes better than regular meatloaf. If you like the ends on meatloaves better, the heart has numerous ends and points to enjoy. Hey, maybe star-shaped meatballs/loaves would taste even better!

Posted by: Shannon at February 6, 2006 10:32 PM

My initial reaction was the same as most of yours': utter disgust; however, it's probably just its Alpo-esque appearance in the picture.

I will say this though: afros are better than high top fades, round asses are better than boxy, flat asses. therefore, regular meatballs must be better than meat cubes.

I'm not so sure the difference in taste between cubes and regular meatballs would be significant: when I make meatballs, their shape is often in between a sphere and a cube. I actually think that meat cylinders and pyramids would be more interesting. Can someone make some meat-boxes, cylinders, and pyramids and tell us how they taste? Come on, someone, play with your meat!

Posted by: eauhellzgnaw at February 6, 2006 10:55 PM

I can't even concentrate on the question here... that picture is just way too disturbing.

Posted by: Emily at February 6, 2006 11:03 PM

And Ian, you probably won't see this... but I had a mad love affair with those little mellon ballers as a child. I thought they were mini ice cream scoops.. and I liked mini things.

I was not, however, much of a fan of mellon.

Posted by: Emily at February 6, 2006 11:09 PM

Im goinna start by telling you I haven't read the previous comments, because its late and I'm getting too cranky to read. The correct answer is that yes the shape of the meatball/cube can make a difference, depending on how it was prapared. I am goinna make an educated guess that the meat cubes were prabably made as one gigantic super cube... only flatter like in a caserole pan or equivalent. Then after being cooked the super cude is cut up into smaller ones. OK! to the point! Because the cubes are cooked together there is less "outside" meat. that meat that gets harder and dryer but holds the meatball juices in. This "outside" meat has a different taste than the unexposed inside meat. So whether either one is better depends on if you like your meat "inside" style or "outside." And there you have it. One more thing, while we are on the subject... when is the next "Steve: Don't Eat That!"

Posted by: Davebo at February 6, 2006 11:42 PM

I agree with Carl. Texture is important in many culinary exploits. As I have a diminished sense of smell, and therefore, taste, I suspect texture is more important to me than the average person.

Posted by: ceruleanfleur at February 7, 2006 1:37 AM

Nobody has mentioned what square cubes would do to the All American MeatBALL Sandwich. You would have to place the cubes in the bread at an angle which means the oppisite angle would be sticking up out of the sauce and cheese like some kinda sharkfin sandwich........enough to send you shrieking into the night. Also when one of those boxes slides down your throat just think how much harder it would be to dislodge during the Heimlich maneuver.

Posted by: Adler at February 7, 2006 2:48 AM

First, @flush it all away, when referring to blowjob, I was referring to the topic of how it was spelled so I had to type it in full length (yes, I know, I spelled differently now, don't whine!) and as for not typing hell... I lost interest in typing halfway through the sentence ;P

As for an empircal test of spheres versus cubes, I sent Steve an email telling I will try to get hold of the tool Silvo offers to make Carcass Cubes/Meatboxes and send it to him... so stay tuned! :D

Posted by: Jeroen (yes, teh one sending the email) at February 7, 2006 4:08 AM

Ok, quick update, I contacted the Silvo company directly, they haven't answered yet, but I'm trying to get them to send the stuff you need for making your own meatboxes.

Posted by: Jeroen at February 7, 2006 4:16 AM

Think of the hours of enjoyment when mom tells you".You can't leave the table until you eat all your cubic meat!". At which point I stack them like that old arcade game (name escapes me, but it involved an alien like thing jumping from surface to surface on a pyramid of cubes) until she is sooooo pissed that she whacks me with a squared-off wooden spoon (would a spoon be a spoon if its squared off or is it a spube?) and tells me to get the hell outta there. Good times, good times...

Posted by: Kurt at February 7, 2006 5:48 AM

The comment board was having some problems, but it looks like they've been fixed so you can post again. Sorry for the inconvenience. If you run into more problems, shoot me an email.

-Steve

Posted by: Steve at February 7, 2006 4:10 PM

whoa, i got a response from the author himself.

i was just teasing, jeroen. thanks for bringing this important culinary development to our attention.

Yours in meatcubidity,
FIAA

Posted by: flush it all away at February 7, 2006 5:00 PM

Kurt, it was Q*bert

Posted by: terrorbite at February 7, 2006 6:17 PM

Wow. I totally want to try these!

Posted by: willo at February 7, 2006 7:55 PM

Actually, from a scientific perspective -- yes, being a cube can make the meatball taste better. Someone mentioned it earlier that it would be browned on all sides, as opposed to being difficult to do with a ball. The scientific name is the Malliard's Reaction -- a.k.a. "browning". The heat causes the proteins and sugars to release chemicals that combine with each other to make new and more intense flavors. And, of course, the different types of meat have varying amounts of collagen, sugar, protein, and other miscellaneous things to melt and go mush together.

Posted by: Michael at February 7, 2006 10:04 PM

Honey, I Shrunk The Potatoes!!

Posted by: Roxanne at February 8, 2006 2:51 AM

Though the folks never openly condoned the act of playing with food, I would be, with the meat block, inclined to poke dots on the sides and play dice with them.

But, plaese, never refer to any such activity as playing "meat craps".

Posted by: Shanon at February 8, 2006 4:34 AM

Or..."Shooting meat craps".

Posted by: Shanon at February 8, 2006 4:35 AM

So, this is square meat right?

Meatballs are a stapler (eh...) in Dutch cuisine. I wonder what they think about this cubistic treat.

And yes, normally the Dutch eat potatoes with their meatballs instead of pasta/noodles.

Posted by: Bugger at February 8, 2006 6:29 AM

In the spirit of the Netherland's complete disregard for the laws of the Muslim community, just imagine the repercussions should the Dutch take this abomination a step further and create the Mohammad Meatball. In the annals of history, this could make the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand look like like a PR stunt.

Posted by: Magravis at February 8, 2006 6:48 AM

Is no one considering how hard the last ones in the bottom of the pot will be to remove? Since they don't roll and will be more difficult to flip, you'll get uneven browning and the flat sides will either stick to the pot and burn, or just simply stick there because of the juices and the vacuum created between the flat surface of the meatbox and the bottom of the pot. In buffet lines this will mean people will get frustrated chasing the last stuck meatboxes as they slide around the buffet tray vacuum-stuck with sauce (think of trying to get that thick carrot slice off the bottom of the stir-fried beef & vegetables tray). Eventually they'll give up and the abandoned meatboxes become wastage, hurting the restaurant's bottom line, not to mention those irritated customers who will not come back because everyone knows the meat items are the best value for your money at a buffet.

Cafeteria lines will be slowed down for the same reason.

And late to the name-the-meatball game but how about I'm Sure Glad They're Not Testicles™?

Posted by: kathleen at February 8, 2006 7:43 AM

Ok. So.. I have in fact read all of these cubical thoughts, and Ive got to say there are some really good points here. (no pun intended... or was it? hhmmm....) Anyways.. Im pretty sure I am against the cube. I know Im against the elbow shape in the macaroni and cheese department. I will eat the spirals the shells and even the ones shaped like your childs ( or maybe your own) favorite cartoon. BUT I will not eat the elbows. I think its the way it holds the cheese.. but thats only a guess. I agree with all of you who find it to be an unnatural thing. Half of the fun of making the meat balls... is rolling the meat around in your hands.. not busting out with a ruler to make sure your sides are even. Though I do have to say... regardless shape... I am to now forever call it a meatbox !!!!!!!!

Posted by: This chick.... at February 8, 2006 8:43 AM

In the interest of science (or stomach satisfaction)...I might try to make cubed and traditional meatballs and put them to a taste test. I have square sushi molds that just might do the trick... Yes...square sushi molds. Those crazy Japanese...

Posted by: jubilee at February 8, 2006 11:43 AM

A meat cube goes against all the laws of meat nature. Somoene who knew me might point out that I only sesumed meat eating two weeks ago after a long veggie only stint but to that I say. "I studied first".

Posted by: will at February 8, 2006 12:18 PM

Two thoughts: Folks are right about the fact that the taste will improve with flat surfaces that have been browned. If you've never made meatballs from scratch, you brown and sear them in a skillet before they ever see any kind of sauce. Searing a sphere is an "iffy" proposition, at best. Searing, by the way, seals in all the tasty juices so they don't escape into the sauce while it simmers.

Second, I can't believe you guys are calling a meatball nothing more than glorified meatloaf! My meatballs have ground beef, pork and sometimes veal. And herbs. Meatloaf is usually beef, breadcrumbs, ketchup... maybe an egg as binder. No comparison!

I'm not a professional chef, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night!

Posted by: Davester at February 8, 2006 12:45 PM

I'm going to say the cubes would in fact be tastier since the entire surface would be seared, therefore locking in flavor. With a ball you have to keep rolling it around and it never completely browns. The carmelization on the outside adds flavor.

Posted by: Suz at February 8, 2006 12:49 PM

So what we're really looking at is the Dutch Spam. Nice can formed "meat." Could be cow, could be chicken...... the point is that it's a square!!! HOORAY!

Posted by: trey at February 8, 2006 2:47 PM

I have the impression that many readers (Americans?) are stuck with the concept that meatballs are small things served in a sauce (and normally on top of pasta). But there are many different kinds of meatballs! Here in Germany, you can get big meatballs served with potatoes (and maybe some other accompaniment). Or they are served cold in a roll. As far as I know Dutch meatballs are quite similar.

Unfortunately I can't find this recipe some of you are talking about on the website, but from what I gathered (I don't speak Dutch), it seems like this company is selling mixtures of spices and one of this mixtures is intended to spice up your "gehaktbals" (meatballs). If you buy it, you get this plastic thing for free that helps you produce perfectly cubical meat"balls". They are not actually selling prefabricated meatcubes.

Nevertheless: They DO look gross!

Posted by: meatball from hell at February 8, 2006 3:38 PM

Interesting... Perhaps the meat is tenderized more when crushed that way? The angular corners make it more interesting to eat? Sprinkled with crack?

Posted by: Edward Mustang at February 8, 2006 5:50 PM

Well, if they were frozen, and packed such that they were algned right, there'd be less surface area exposed to air, less chance of freezer burn, and thus better taste.

Posted by: MacG at February 8, 2006 7:46 PM


meatcubes look like deep-fried tofu.

Posted by: thy at February 8, 2006 9:48 PM

The best ball is square
The best ball is square
The best ball is square

Quite a slogan.

Kind of like

war is peace
up is down
meat cubes of undetermined origin are tasty

Posted by: Mark at February 9, 2006 5:49 AM

while i am fully in favor of more crispiness and more surface area for gravy, i can't help thinking that they look like something you would find chunks of bone and manybe some hair in, but the whole body would never turn up because it had been turned into meat cubes

Posted by: molly at February 9, 2006 1:27 PM

Ok, I would like to say that I am not going to read thru 114 comments right now...(you are such a stud) but I am sure it has come up already...what I want to know is when we can expect to see this on "Steve, Don't eat it"?

Jamie

Posted by: thedoggydidit at February 9, 2006 3:13 PM

The guy who sent me the info on the meat cuber is trying to get me an actual one.

(By the way, I've been crazy busy with work lately. Once it settles down I'll get back into the swing with the Steve, Don't Eat It's.)

Posted by: Steve at February 9, 2006 7:54 PM