Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
The wearable veggie-bot Tomatan will demonstrate how to fuel up on lycopene while on the go.
Skeptics of wearable technology, prepare for conversion: The world's first tomato-dispensing backpack is upon us.
Schemed up by the Japanese tomato-product manufacturer Kagome, the 17.6 pound, humanoid veggie-bot Tomatan will make its public debut this weekend. It'll ride upon the sturdy, lycopene-loving shoulders of company employee Shigenori Suzuki as he runs the Toyko Marathon.
Suzuki will be running both Saturday's 5K "fun run" and Sunday's full marathon.* He'll eat seven medium-sized tomatoes delivered to his lips by Tomatan's robotic arms as he completes the first run. He'll then chow down 12 cherry tomatoes courtesy of Petit Tomatan, a smaller, more compact contraption, during his longer haul.
Sure, tomatoes are full of heart-healthy phytochemicals like beta-carotene and folic acid. But eating all of those in a row sounds positively vomit-inducing, even without the whole 10K part. Of course, there are no plans as of yet to commercialize the Tomatan; it's a PR stunt from Kagome, one of the marathon's sponsors, which plans to distribute 50,000 boring, regular tomatoes to other runners on Sunday.
While a tomato-feeding device might not be so practical for runners, a tomato-throwing wearable is something I've actually long dreamed of owning as a pedestrian. The next time a texting driver nearly mows me down in a crosswalk, they just might receive my Tomatan-inspired wrath all over their windshield.
*A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Suzuki will be running in the 10km race on Sunday. He will in fact be running the full marathon.