Sometimes wonderfully, sometimes maddeningly—perhaps depending on which side of the skinny Mission Chinese entryway or 11:00 a.m. click-reclick reservations on Blanca’s website you are—New York of late can seem like one giant museum of food and drink. It’s just distributed over many locations.
Now the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) turns the city’s relentless celebration of eating and drinking into something slightly more official, institutional. MOFAD is launching pop-up (snap, crackle, pop-up?) exhibitions, beginning with "BOOM!" It’s a show that explores the history of breakfast cereals—complete with a 3,200-pound cereal puffing gun, to be mounted by summer’s end in heavy pedestrian areas like Times Square.
Assuming the fundraising boom continues for the 30 or so hours that remain on Kickstarter, the installation will re-create a machine designed for Kellogg’s in the 1940s for the production of Kix and Cheerios. It will spin more than 18 pounds of rice. The show’s curators promise a "highly sensory experience."
The gun works by pressurizing the rice in batches before expelling it as puffs—with accompanying audio effect—into a glass chamber. Samples of city-made cereal will be distributed to deafened audience members. Speaking with Co.Design, MOFAD Executive Director Peter Kim breaks down the choreography:
"You’ll see a presentation on the science of puffing and the history of the puffing gun, while the massive machine whirls and heats up the enclosed ingredients. The pressure gauge will slowly rise as anticipation builds. Then, when the gun is ready to go, we’ll start a countdown before—BOOM!"
As the first example of MOFAD programming, BOOM! had to captivate the public (with the force of say, a new David Chang place), yet also go deep into the food’s history. And it needed to capture the innovative and informative ways that the museum will make those histories come alive with future shows—i.e., those without the special effects of giant cereal in a public place—and eventually, a brick-and-mortar museum. As Kim explains, "the puffing gun fit the bill on all counts."
He and his colleague Dave Arnold, president and founder of MOFAD, didn’t take the typical funding route for their debut. That is, they turned to Kickstarter, rather than courting industry heads or cultural emissaries in pursuit of startup cash. "We love the idea of MOFAD getting its first big push from a broad base of people who believe in the organization’s mission," Kim says.
Entry-level backers ($30-$50) will be rewarded with standard Kickstarter fare, like American Apparel tees and Baggu totes, while $100 will get you the same plus a bag of specially puffed snacks, custom-made by Arnold himself with the big gun. For the serial cereal eater with $10,000+ to give, the MOFAD team will create your very own concoction and themed packaging in a limited-production run of up to 100 boxes.
The BOOM! funding page has raised more than $85,000 from nearly 700 backers, some $5,000 more than the original goal. To build off that excitement, MOFAD has announced the exhibit’s first pitstop will be at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan on August 17. See you at the cereal gun.