You know that Maslow’s Hirearchy of Needs thing? It’s kind of like the food pyramid, only it has to do with the fundamental needs of being a human. I don’t feel like looking it up, but I’m going to assume the crucial needs are eating and driving. Driving and eating! The two most important things in life, and, tragically, some of the least compatible. We here at Autopian Labs (our R&D department here at The Autopian) understand that this is a problem that needs solving, and solving problems exactly what we do here. This time, the problem is determining just which foods are best to eat while driving — something we’ll have to do by incorporating hard, empirical testing. You want driving food answers? Of course you do, and we got ’em.
We documented the entire process here, so I suggest you stop whatever meaningless crap you’re doing immediately – that means let the fire burn or let that patient just wait another 20 minutes or so for those lungs or keep circling that airport, because this is important:
As you watch, if you need a breakdown of the testing methods and foods tested, I’m happy to provide all that for you.
For the test procedure, we used the Autopian Test Vehicle — a 2006 Scion xB with a five-speed manual transmission — as our test platform. By using a manual transmission car, we were able to provide the most demanding eating-while-driving use case, as both hands are required for driving operation. This way, whatever works well in this context can be certain to work well in an automatic transmission vehicle.
The driving test course included crucial driving elements such as: a three-point turn, a slalom, an emergency handbrake stop, and entering and backing out of a parking spot (along with the usual set of turning, accelerating, shifting gears, and stopping). The driving course was designed with the input from scientists at the National Mobile Food Consumption Coalition, a splinter faction of the SCCA, and input from the American Council of Churches.
The American Dental Association requires us to note they had no formal participation in this project.
The set of metrics that determined a food’s drivable edibility are shown below, and were developed by the most advanced AI capable of running on a 16K Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100:
Containability: How well the food remains contained and together Residue Factor: The level of residue, either of the sauce or crumb variety, produced by the food Focus: How much attention does the food demand be taken from the driving task to eat Cleanup: How messy was the aftermath of consumption
Flavor and affordability were factored in as needed as tie-breaking or additional criteria.
The foods tested by David and myself were as follows:
Cold Pizza Chipotle Chicken Burrito Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme Panera Broccoli and Cheese Soup Bread Bowl McDonald's Cheeseburger Olive Garden Lasagna Big Calzone Biryani Coney Island Chilidog Panda Express Chow Mein (with chopsticks) Bonus: McDonald's McNuggets
The foods were selected for widespread availability, and we were careful to ensure a wide variety of food types. None have been specifically engineered for driving and eating use, and no organizations provided the food nor exerted any sort of pressure on us to rate a given food higher or lower, despite repeated attempts by agents of the National Lasagna Council. You know we don’t play like that, NLC! So call off your goons!
We hope this experiment proves helpful to you in your future drivedining adventures. We also hope this will be a call to arms to America’s food producers as they realize that the state of drive-edible foods is in crisis. Options are limited, and, in many cases, actually dangerous.
Autopian Labs will continue to provide these sorts of research projects to aid the collective good of humankind as a Driving Species.