It’s like a party in your mouth, and electricity’s invited!

We’re more than five months into 2024, and we still don’t have the flying cars or robot butlers that futurist thinkers had promised us would be ours in the 21st century. But you know what Japan finally does have? Hi-tech spoons that create an electrical field inside your mouth to trick your brain into thinking food tastes saltier than it really is.

Yes, Kirin Holdings has made good on the promise they made back in 2022, even if it took them a little longer than they expected, as the Elecisalt electric salt spoon is now on sale.

The way the spoon works is simple, if startling to those unfamiliar with the science behind it. The perception of salty flavor is largely dependent on the effect that sodium ions have on taste buds, and the resulting message that gets sent to the brain. Ordinarily, these sodium ions are evenly distributed within your mouth when you take a bite of food, which Kirin claims can make them harder to detect.

The tip of the Elecisalt spoon is equipped with a mechanism that sends an electric charge into the food that it comes into contact with, and also creates an electrical field around your tongue when you put the spoon into your mouth. This causes the sodium ions to bunch together, Kirin says, and their more concentrated formation causes the same amount of salt to create a stronger perceived flavor than it would without the electrical charge and field.

▼ It’s all diagramed in these images showing an expansive pink tongue (舌).

The goal is to make food and recipes that are low in sodium, and thus healthy, still taste satisfyingly flavorful. Ostensibly, the Elecispoon’s charge is strong enough to have this effect, but not so powerful as to cause any unpleasant shocking or tingling sensations. The spoon is, however, equipped with four levels of electric intensity, and Kirin Holdings recommends first-timers use the lowest setting to start with.

▼ Note that the Elecispoon does not actually cause physical manifestations of its product logo to manifest in midair.

Kirin Holdings has also been developing electric saltiness-enhancing chopsticks and bowls, but it decided to prioritize the Elecispoon after its research showed that ramen broth and soups were common temptations for those trying to avoid heavy sodium sources but who were unsatisfied with low-salt versions on the market. The developers also recommend the Elecispoon for eating curry rice and fried rice, and say that the electrical charge can boost perceived levels of umami as well as saltiness.

As you might expect from a device that puts electricity in your mouth, Kirin Holdings has a list of people they don’t recommend the product for, including people with facial nerve disorders, metal allergies, electrically powered medical implants, or inabilities to perceive pain or temperature. People currently undergoing dental treatments, pregnant women and minors are also advised to stick to conventional spoons, although Kirin Holding’s disclaimer that the Elecispoon is not recommended for “people who cannot properly grip a spoon” suggests that they may be erring on the side of caution in the extent of their warnings.

The Elecispoon is currently being offered online directly from Kirin here, priced at 19,800 yen (US$128). The initial batch is limited to 200 units, though, with buyers to be selected via lottery among those who place an order between now and June 2, with shipping scheduled for mid-June, and restocks scheduled for later dates. The Elecispoon will also be available at select branches of Japanese housewares store Hands in June.

Source: PR Times
Images: Kirin Holdings
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