Laura Bliss is CityLab’s west coast bureau chief, covering transportation and technology. She also authors MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Los Angeles magazine, and beyond.
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.