Soylent, the powder-based “food product” slash “meal replacement” that became all the rage for joyless Silicon Valley employees in recent years, will soon be offered in Walmart stores across the US.
Per the Verge, Soylent’s maker Rosa Foods announced on Wednesday that it is bringing the signature brand of packaged, flavored sludge—which takes its name from the disheartening 1973 dystopian film Soylent Green, where it’s eventually revealed the product’s key ingredient is uh, “long pig”—to 450 Walmart stores across the country. Soylent CEO Bryan Crowley added in a statement that the move is “a significant step in providing more ways for consumers to get access to our brand,” expanding beyond its current placement in 7-Eleven stores.
Per Business Insider, Crowley added that he hopes the rollout will help make “unhealthy and unsustainable food voids obsolete for consumers everywhere.”
This is a curious pitch. As the Atlantic wrote in 2016, the idea that Soylent can actually replace meals just by ticking off a list of nutrients is widely derided by nutritionists. The concept is really more of an indictment of the kind of diet pushed by big box stores like Walmart, which tend to offer unhealthier food than grocery stores at a lower price.
In any case, meal replacement products are not a new concept. Soylent’s original success was really rebranding them as a way for overworked Silicon Valley engineers to cut out meal times so they could crunch harder, which is a deeply depressing concept. The best thing that could be said about it is that it’s healthier than a bad diet, but using it as your default meal go-to rather than an occasional meal replacement might leave you haunted by the absence of real food.
Soylent’s had a turbulent few years: While Silicon Valley keeps on pumping money into the company, it’s been banned in Canada for not meeting “meal replacement” requirements, and its CEO resigned in December 2017.
In any case, Walmart’s Soylent will initially be available in three flavors, if you’re into that: Cacao, Vanilla Latte, and Coffiest. The original flavor, which Business Insider describes as “consistently ‘okay’ at best,” will not be available.