How Did Back to the Future’s Food Predictions Turn Out?
Let's fact-check that dehydrated pizza and Pepsi Perfect
1989 was a momentous year for us: Steven Malkmus changed the connotation of the word pavement, the Berlin Wall fell, and filmmaker Robert Zemeckis sent Marty McFly, star of the Back to the Future trilogy and “the world’s second time traveler,” into the future. And not just to any day in the future—to October 21, 2015. That day is today.
This miraculously jet-lag-free trip occurs in Back to the Future II, which is complete with hoverboards, fingerprint sensors, and notably, a whole slew of futuristic food innovations—edible and technical, purely hypothetical and close-to-possible. Some of Zemeckis’ predictions were eerily spot-on (kitchen-grown fruit hews close to urbanites tending windowsill gardens). In other instances (i.e. dehydrated pizza) he wasn’t just ahead of his time, but also ours.
Here’s all the food innovations in Back to the Future II‘s 2015—and how we measure up:
1982 (“Vintage”) Perrier Sparkling Mineral Water, 11 oz. bottles
Real Future Status: Perrier still in existence. Bottles from 1982, hopefully not.
Evaluation: Once considered “as much a badge of the trendy yuppie of the early 1980’s as red suspenders or a color-coded Filofax organizer” by the New York Times, Perrier took a hard hit in 1990 upon discovering it had been selling benzene-laced bubbles and had to recall 160 million bottles worldwide. Since Back to the Future II was released prior to this discovery, Zemeckis wouldn’t have known that Perrier would soon become a flop. While we can still pick up the green glass bottles, we’re too busy throwing our pennies at the sparkling water of the moment, one that’s more of a “Vinho Verde, not a cava”: La Croix (go for the pamplemousse variety if you care about flavor at all).
1980’s theme restaurants
Real Future Status: Head to Prague.
Evaluation: While we do not currently have a “Cafe 80’s” [sic] stateside (though there are plenty with a variation of that name), there appears to be one in Prague that delivers “acid wash jeans, baggies, MTV, Polaroids, Walkmen, eight-track tapes, cassettes, digital watches.”
Restaurants in which you can both eat and exercise simultaneously
Real Future Status: Nonexistent.
Evaluation: Level of disappointment that this does not exist today: 0.
Cashiers through a screen
Real Future Status: Nonexistent, but close.
Evaluation: While Panera, McDonalds, and a slew of other fast-casual restaurants have constructed touchscreen machines for ordering food, so as to prevent scenarios in which there could be both a customer enraged over the lack of pickles on their McDouble, as well as a one who insists their son needs a M&M’s McFlurry, at the register at the same time, we do not yet have such a video a contraption. However, expect to see such an advancement sometime by 2025, the year a Pew Research Center study predicts that robots and artificial intelligence will be omnipresent. Or head to Japan, where this robot will cook and serve you ramen.
Real Future Status: Almost existent.
Evaluation: Pepsico announced on October 5th that Pepsi Perfect would, in fact, be available for purchase tomorrow. It looks there will be a built-in straw and screw-on like in the film, but no word on whether it’ll be enriched with vitamins like in McFly’s 2015. For the full experience, head to Prague to drink it in Cafe 80’s.
Wrappers that are most easily opened with your teeth
Real Future Status: Achieved.
Evaluation: It’s true—engineers still have not invented a better way to puncture packaging foil than tearing it open with your own incisors.
Graham crackers in a cereal-sized box
Real Future Status: We have surpassed the expected.
Evaluation: Thanks to hard work from packaging designers, we have created glossy boxes with rosy-cheeked elves and strands of wheat that are much more visually appealing than anything McFly could buy. Point for reality.
Real Future Status: Nonexistent.
Evaluation: We have not yet cleanly extracted all the water out of pizza, and we’re still waiting on Black & Decker to release their hydrator appliance. However, we do live in a world with dehydrated-pizza-flavored Pringles, Lay’s, Doritos, Pringles Stix, Combos, mac and cheese, beer, condoms, and more.
Indoor gardens in which you can grow both bananas and grapes
Real Future Status: Conditionally existent.
Evaluation: Many of us have windowsill herbs, but as far as we know, no one has yet to successfully grow both bananas and grapes inside. (If you or someone you know has successfully grown a grape vine indoors, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
All screenshots: Amanda Arnold