Soylent in Retrospect
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
Today I tried Soylent for the first time. It was sort of an accident: I had to get up before sunrise to catch a bus to the airport, and I didn’t have time for breakfast. So as I was leaving I hesitated, then grabbed one of my roommate’s bottles out of the fridge. My roommate is one of those guys who’s too lazy to tie his own shoes. He obviously grew up with his mom always cooking for him, and when he went away to college, he, being a resourceful but utterly incapable individual, turned to means of subsistence other than real food. He always kept the fridge stocked with bottles of the stuff, a whole shelf full of identical, flavorless, meal-replacement beverages. He had them delivered in bulk, a two-week supply at a time, and convinced his parents to pay extra for the delivery service to put them directly in the fridge. So I took one of his bottles out, since I didn’t particularly care if he went without his beloved vitamin sludge for a day, and put it in my bag for later. I was too groggy to be very hungry since it was still the wee hours of the night, and I figured I would only drink it if I didn’t get a chance to hit the McDonald’s at the airport so I wouldn't start feeling crappy and hungry. When I got to the airport, I got my boarding pass, checked my bag, and walked up to the security checkpoint. There was almost no line, it being before 5am on a weekday, so in no time I was at the conveyor belt taking off my shoes and checking my pockets for loose change. I loaded my backpack onto the belt, having taken out my computer and placed it in a separate bin, but just as I was about to push my bag through I remembered the Soylent. “Shit!” I muttered, a little too loudly. Several people turned to look at me quizzically. A lady leading a child by the hand while her husband folded up a stroller frowned in my direction. I smiled sheepishly and raised my hand in a gesture of apology. Since several people kept staring, I awkwardly explained in a muted voice to no one in particular “I forgot I have a bottled drink in my bag is all.” The security agent, a stout woman in her 30s, barked at me “Sir, you can’t have any liquids above eight ounces in your bag. I’m gonna have to ask you to dispose of that in the trash cans behind the... wait, is that Soylent?” A teenager wearing a backwards-facing baseball cap who had been staring at me after my outburst and since turned away suddenly turned back when he heard the name of the beverage. “Soylent?” he must have been thinking, “Whoa dude, that’s legit.” Several other passengers began to murmur in agreement. The security agent had an impressed look on her face. She said, “I’m really sorry, sir, to have to inconvenience you—since you’re obviously too important to eat—but unfortunately policy says that I can’t let you take that through the checkpoint.” “It’s okay,” I responded assertively, straightening up from my embarrassedly hunched posture. “I understand. You’re just doing your job.” The woman smiled at me earnestly. “Thank you sir. You know, I’m terribly sorry that your power beverage has to go to waste—technically, you can drink your drinks before going through security, but no one would be able to drink an entire Soylent in one go.” I quickly considered this statement, then decided it was time for a challenge. “Oh I can.” More people who had been listening in on our conversation since they heard the word “Soylent” now turned to look when they heard this bold assertion. Now with an audience, there was no going back. I tore the black plastic seal off of the neck, slowly unscrewed the cap from the little white bottle, put it to my lips and started to chug. The drink had a pasty consistency, and tasted a little like mashed up Cheerios and milk. After I had gotten through about half the bottle, which seemed to take a lifetime, I briefly considered putting the bottle down to take a break. But no sooner had this thought occurred to me than the captive crowd of hundreds of passengers who seemed to have appeared from nowhere—the airport had been nearly deserted when I arrived—started chanting “Soylent! Soylent! Soylent!” I knew I couldn’t let down my devotees by pausing mid-chug, so I swallowed on, faster and faster. Most of the way through the bottle, my stomach started to feel heavy and my eyes grew tired. I *really* felt like stopping—the feeling was as if I had eaten two three-course meals in succession and was being offered dessert. But I forced myself to keep drinking, and it wasn’t long until I had finished the entire bottle. I triumphantly lowered the empty bottle and lobbed it into the trash, wiping my lips in the same motion. The crowd exploded. I felt my muscles beginning to ripple. My biceps swelled, and my entire body started to bulk up from the sheer rate at which I had consumed the protein-laden smoothie. I shot up in height by a foot, and my expanding chest ripped open my shirt as my mortal body evolved into a Schwarzeneggrian state. The passengers clapped and cheered, smitten by my performance. I took a bow, turned around and continued through security to catch my flight.
Written by Noah Luntzlara; Art by Shannon Zheng