Plate-for-one? It’s called an electric frying pan

In 1981 I moved into residence as a freshman at the University of Guelph. Back then the meal plan consisted of paper cards that were worth $20 each. There was a German-themed dining hall/bar in the basement of Johnson Hall, called Der Keller, or what we called it, Derks.

Those were the waning days of higher education. The student newspaper had just completed its annual homegrown judging contest, and students could purchase beer with their meal cards. There was also a thriving entrepreneurial culture of meal card scalping. Because new cards were issued at the beginning of each semester, the value would decline as the semester wore on. In the last few weeks, $20 meal cards could be had for $12, which could then be transformed into several pitchers of beer.

And what did those students who traded in meal cards for cash or beer eat? Cereal. Sandwiches. Whatever. For me, the electric frying pan was caloric salvation. I lived on grilled cheese, fried hot dogs, and scrambled eggs. Straight out of the frying pan.

Today, some hustler has reinvented my memories into the plate-for-one. Geeky Gadgets says,

Just cook your food directly on the plate and then once it’s done, you can eat it directly on the plate itself. … It’s perfect for those that are single (and like to keep your meals simple), as well as college students. It’d also make it so you could cook directly from your desk, if you so chose.

A better marketing slogan may be: Plate-for-one, beer for many.