If Keith Mullin has his way, we might soon see a sixth food group in the USDA’s Food Pyramid: Cognitive Performance Snacks. Mullin calls his invention "Gamer Grub" and maintains that it is “formulated to boost your brain and speed reaction times.”
Gamer Grub will be available in four flavors considered to be popular with gamers ("Strategy Chocolate," "Action Pizza," "Racing Wasabi," and "Sports PB&J" (that’s peanut butter and jelly to the uninitiated), but two features will set this snack apart from the chips, pizza, popcorn, and similar snack foods on which gamers are known to subsist: a proprietary mix of vitamins and other supplements, and a unique “delivery system” that will enable one to consume the product in the midst of gaming without leaving one’s fingers, keyboard, and mouse slick with grease.
The delivery system comes in the form of flip-top lid on top of an ergonomically shaped plastic container that is easily gripped with one hand. The supplements range from Vitamin A (for improved eyesight) to Magnesium (for the maintenance of muscle and nerve functions) to Choline (for muscle reactions). While the Gamer Grub website seems to make these claims in a tongue-cheek-fashion, it also provides citations to scholarly research to back its nutritional claims.
Mullin, a sometime gamer himself, originally developed the Gamer Grub concept for a General Mills’ snack inventors’ contest. The cereal-maker declared Mullin’s entry a winner, but ultimately decided against manufacturing the product; so Mullin decided to develop it himself. This is not his first invention.
“I work in product development,” Mullin told us when we contacted him this morning. “I’ve invented and licensed several toy products, and I invented a pet toy called the Bark-N-Bat. This is the first time I’ve done a food product, and it’s definitely exciting.”
Mullin describes Gamer Grub as a “functional food,” a concept he says he did not invent (here’s Wikipedia’s definition). “Functional food is basically a food product that enhances a lifestyle or a health condition,” Mullin said. “It’s a very large food category.” Mullin also advised us not to confuse his product with the category of food supplements. “The difference between a supplement and a natural food,” he said, “is that the FDA generally recognizes the ingredients in a natural food to be safe.”
Gamers attending the “E for All” videogame event in Los Angeles later this week will be able to sample Gamer Grub, and Mullin promised to ship some product directly to us, as well. We’ll let you know what we think of it. Everyone else will have to wait until the product reaches retailers’ shelves some time in 2009. Mullin has not yet settled on a retail price for the product.
Note: This story was updated October 1 with a link to the Gamer Grub website and pricing information.