have refrigerator, will travel

Harry Hutchinson

Post from Harry Hutchinson:

I really enjoy road trips, especially with a theme. I had an open weekend at Thanksgiving, for instance, so I tucked a case of stout in the trunk and drove across Indiana to see Dillinger crime sites. (This is not a confession of recklessness: I only drank the stout at motels after the day’s driving was finished.)

That was great fun, but General Electric has come up with a trip that tops mine hands-down.

They send a mechanical engineer and a celebrity chef on a 2,000-mile trek in a pickup truck with a refrigerator, powered by a generator, in the back. They have to stock it with fresh food that they buy along the way. Then they will drive to the desert to cook dinner for a wildlife biologist, whose day job is saving mountain lions or something, and so he’s nowhere near a grocery store that sells fresh food. And that’s the point of the exercise, that the new GE French door refrigerator will protect anything from the heat.

I’m not making any of this up. Somebody else did—a crew of people at the BBDO ad agency.

The trip was filmed and has been edited into episodes, which will be posted on a website called Freshpedition. The website will launch on June 14. That happens to be Flag Day, but I don’t know if there is a connection.

Julie Wood, who works in the public relations office of GE’s major appliance division in Louisville, sent me a rough cut of the first “webisode.”

The engineer, Justin Berger, works for the major appliance division and is on the team who designed the high-end refrigerator that’s sitting on the bed of the truck, so he has every confidence that all the food’s going to keep just fine. The chef, Ben Sargent, who has a show called “Hook, Line, and Dinner” on the Cooking Channel, isn’t so sure.

The Odd Couple theme kicks in from the start. They’re already on the road and Sargent is checking his smart phone for places to buy ingredients. Berger is driving and talking about making a list and crossing things off as they buy them.

“Do you have any idea of what you want to make with what we get?” Berger asks.

And of course, Sargent claims to have no idea.

At one point, Berger tells the camera, “It’s going to be a long week.”

Their first stop, not far from Louisville when they’re just getting started, is to pick up Bibb lettuce.

They buy a few heads and put them into the crisper drawer. The farmer recommends sealing the lettuce in plastic containers to keep it from wilting, but Berger, the engineer, says it’s not necessary with this refrigerator because he can “run the fresh food evaporator a little bit warmer so it doesn’t pull all the humidity out of your food.” (After all, this is intended to sell GE refrigerators.)

I haven’t seen any of the other webisodes, yet, but I’m sure that as entertainment, it beats even a weekend of historic bank robberies. And the video quality is better than mine, too.


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The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

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