Episode #189: One Bowl to Rule Them All

Eating cereal can be more than just… eating cereal. For proof, look no further than Obo, makers of a bowl that transforms cereal from a meal to an experience. There’s a valuable lesson here — no matter how mundane your product or service, you absolutely must provide the best experience possible. If a cereal bowl can do it, so can you.

See all Copernican Shift podcasts
The Copernican Shift on Apple Podcasts


All right, here we go. I’m grad Conn. Welcome to the Copernican shift. Today’s show is brought to you by this fine Coca Cola product, which is Coca Cola with coffee, which I just found out recently was not launched nationwide, is only available in a few markets. So I bought this in New York. This is caramel flavor. I bought it in New York and I’m drinking it in Florida. I don’t know what’s going on there. Did I really transport this 3,000 miles? Maybe. And when I say brought to you by Coca Cola, they didn’t actually give me any money. I’ve never taken any money from any sponsors for anything we do. We don’t run ads or anything. This is all just me blathering away and sending out good vibes into the universe. When I say “brought to you by” I mean I’m drinking this right now. And that’s how I’m talking to you. Because I’ve been talking all day, and if I didn’t have this, I probably wouldn’t be able to keep talking. So this show brought to you actually, by Coca Cola with coffee.

And I will say, while we’re on this topic, I mentioned this to somebody… who was I talking to you? I was in London last week. Great trip in London. We have some of the greatest people that working here. Really, really fantastic team there. But I told someone about Coca Cola and coffee, because this is one of my favorite new drink products. I’m not a huge pop person. But they literally thought this was the most disgusting thing they’d heard about their entire life. I don’t know why that would be true. But I don’t think that Coca Cola for breakfast is a big thing in Europe. That’d be my guess on that one. Anyway, this is an excellent product. It’s got this really interesting kind of coffee kick to it. And it really does taste like Coke plus coffee. And the calories are a little bit lower. So it does feel like it’s been diluted with coffee. It’s only 70 calories for this. This big can. So it’s delicious, it’s absolutely delicious. It’s almost like coffee with Coke in it is the way I think about it. It’s almost like you sweetened your coffee with Coke instead of putting cream in it. The way it kind of tastes. And if anyone from Coca Cola is listening, yes I would like a free case. I’m drinking caramel right now. I’m okay with other flavors. I don’t drink the diet stuff, though. So just stay with the regular high test.

So what are we talking about today? Oh, yes. So today I want to talk about cereal bowls. And food adventures. I’m going to do this in a two parter. I’m going to talk first about my cereal bowl. Yes, over my right shoulder, that’s my teddy bear. And I am just like, for those of you listening to this and saying oh, my god, he sounds like a 12 year old, keep going down. Keep going down. Like wind that back to probably around eight. Just the other day I was doing something, I was playing with something like glass or something. And my girlfriend looked at me, she goes what are you doing? And I said, Oh, just playing with this liquid over the bed or whatever. It was a glass of wine. She says you’re such a boy, like such a little boy, like what is wrong with you, grow up. And I’m like, um, okay. Anyway, so this is a little boy show.

I have this really cool cereal bowl. It’s called an Obol. And for the YouTubers I’ll show you the Obol. And it’s a very unique bowl. So it’s got… on the bottom it’s got a handle that you can hold it by so that you can grip it from the bottom. And the top there are two compartments. And the top compartment here is where you put the cereal and you put the cereal in there dry. And the bottom compartment is a deep well. And in the deep well you put the milk, and then there’s a little channel between the top and the bottom. So they’re divided. And there’s a ridge that divides them. But there’s a little channel in the ridge that connects the two and you basically pull some of the dry cereal into the milk and then you eat it obviously, and what it does is allows you to control the level of moisture in the cereal. Because for people who are big cereal eaters out there, and right now I’m working my way through a box of Kix. Just finished Captain Crunch a couple weeks ago. But for big cereal eaters out there you know that when you pour the cereal and then you pour the milk on the cereal… there are some animals out there who eat their cereal with water. That’s disgusting, by the way. So I don’t want to hear about that anymore.

But you put your milk on, and what happens is that the cereal at the bottom gets so overly soggy. And the cereal at the top is sometimes too crunchy and you’re trying to mix it up, and you’re trying to eat it, trying to get the right consistency. But always some of it’s not quite right. Unless you have a non nutritive coating on it that keeps the milk out. For those of you who know what I’m talking about, congratulations. Good reference catch. So what this does is it allows you to take just a little bit of cereal out of the top, and put it into the milk, and then let it get to the exact level of moisture content that you like in the cereal, and then you eat it. And so every bite is a perfect bite. It is a great joy. I have one of these here in Florida. I have a couple in New York in one of the apartments. I lost a few in the divorce. But overall, I have a lot of Obols. And these guys are awesome.

So hey, Randy, can you guess why I’m telling the story? Yeah, you can or you cannot?

Randy Choco 
User experience.

Oh my god, you got it right on the money. Nailed it. Randy, we’re spending too much time together. So while I’m describing this as a cereal bowl, I also describing the experience of it. And what’s interesting about it is that this is actually, you can actually easily replicate the functionality of this device with two bowls. You could pour your cereal in one bowl dry, you could put another bowl of milk in front of you. And you could take a spoonful of cereal, put in your milk bowl, stir it around, and then have your perfect bite. Absolutely. Zero problem, in fact, potentially argue, potentially a better way to go. But nobody does that. It’s almost like the Obol folks invented the idea of a spoonful at a time. But it’s super easy to do.

Now there are some dishes…there’s this great dish that I used to have, my Polish grandmother used to make a dish where we had a bowl of mashed potatoes in the middle of the table with the onions mixed into it. And then we would have bowls of buttermilk in front of us. You take a little scoop of the mashed potatoes, and the onions are a critical part because you take a little scoop of the mashed potatoes with the onions. And then you’d put it into your buttermilk. And I know that some of you don’t like buttermilk. And by the way, you’re also animals, you can turn this off right now. So I put a little scoop into the buttermilk. And then you’d eat it together. Delicious, especially in a hot summer. So there’s a precedent for having a bowl of liquid in front of you and then dipping stuff in. It’s not the craziest thing in food technology.

But this idea of putting it together that makes it interesting because I think it does something else. There’s an element of fun. It’s not just that the experience is… typically when we think about these things, we think in terms of functional benefits, right? So the functional benefit is every bite is a perfect bite. That’s how I described it. But I’m going to be honest with you, it’s not hurting that the bowl is purple. And there’s different colors by the way, there’s red, there’s blue, green, I think there’s a whole bunch of different colors. So the color doesn’t hurt either. And what they’ve done is they’ve taken this experience of cereal eating. And not only have they made it functionally superior, although there are other ways of doing it. They’ve also made it emotionally superior by making it fun colors. The look of it is quite well done. And it feels like a little bit of a game because you know, if I was going to be honest with myself, getting deep on this stuff here. But each time I toss a piece of cereal off the top ledge. So there’s this top ledge here. So every time a piece of cereal goes off the top ledge into the milk inside, I’ll just go whoa. So each piece like throws itself into the liquid. And you can have a lot of fun with that, right? So I’ve got essentially my lemmings on the top shelf, throwing themselves into the sea to be enjoyed by me later. And I think there’s almost a gamification and sort of fun edification that occurs with that.

So I’m thinking to myself, oh, why is it just like this? Like, why are cereal bowls generally so boring? Wouldn’t it be cool… no one’s done this, by the way, I’ve looked everywhere. Wouldn’t it be cool to make a whole series because these are just plastic. I can make anything out of plastic. Wouldn’t it be cool if there’s a whole series of adventure bowls. And you’d have like, to start with, one of my favorite: Egyptian, okay? So the Egyptian site. You have a temple, you have a pyramid, you’d have a mummy and you’d have a Sphinx, all that kind of stuff. And you’d have pockets where bits of cereal or bits of food could go in, pockets where things can travel between them. And if I’m parent, and I’m serving either myself, or an eight year old, what I could do is I would like put the dinner almost like a TV dinner, right? Put the dinner… like put the peas under the pyramid, and I’d put like the gravy in in front of the Sphinx. And there’d be a little gate, you can open it and the gravy pours down a sluice into the mashed potatoes pod. Wouldn’t that be amazing? And you can have adventures inside these little bowls. And you could brand them right? Do Paw Patrol. The Paw Patrol adventure bowl, and you can have a whole cool sort of cereal or food adventures with it. And you can make them different sizes: bigger, smaller. But could actually turn eating food into a completely different experience. And I think it would solve a lot of the problems with feeding kids if they’re just bored, or they don’t want to eat it. I think making it fun, making it a game would be super cool. You got a little piece loose, right? So take one pea at a time drop them down, they can throw off the end and drop into the bowl gravy that you can scoop them up. Oh my god, the possibilities are endless.

So adventure bowls. If you make this, please send me one. I’m willing to pay for it. It feels like a little much because I gave you the idea, but it’s okay. If you make it and you don’t really want to charge me, I’ll still pay for it because I would like to have one. And you could do an Indiana Jones one. You could do a Walt Disney World Adventure bowl. You could literally do unlimited number of adventure bowls. In the meantime, I’ll be using my Obol and enjoying it very much. I have usually some kind of Captain Crunch, Kix, some kind of kids cereal every Saturday morning and I watch an episode of The Jetsons. Sort of my weekly routine. So right now I’m happy with the Obol, but I’d be delighted with an adventure bowl.

For the Copernican shift. I’m Grad Conn. Thanks for listening.