Paging George Jetson, paging George Jetson, your latte has arrived.
We still don't have flying cars, but we do now have self heating beverages. While at the store yesterday, I came across WolfGang Puck's gourmet rich espresso latte in a self-heating can.
No, I haven't taken leave of my senses. The beverage comes in a double walled can that contains an inner beverage along with an outer "puck" of quicklime (calcium oxide or CaO) and a layer of water. To heat the beverage, one turns the can upside down, pulls a protective lid off, pushes a plastic button in (releasing the quicklime into the water), then turns the can back over to wait for it to heat.
The calcium oxide reacts with the water to form Calcium Hydroxide [Ca(OH)2], releasing a lot of heat in the process, which warms your beverage to up to 140 F.
The can technology is from a San Diego company called OnTech. You can see a slideshow on the technology on their site.
It's not the first self-heating can by far. The first self-heating cans actually used cordite to provide the heat as far back as 1939. The calcium oxide method came a little later. One can imagine the dangers in putting even small amounts of cordite into the hands of consumers (look at all that soup he's buying - he must be a terrorist!)
So how effective is the technology? I followed the instructions and in minutes was enjoying a hot beverage. I thought the latte itself was too sweet by far, but that's not the fault of the can. One problem with the can is awfully heavy. Because it has that water layer, the can feels full even after it's empty. Also the "protective plastic lid", which is required to prevent you from burning yourslef on the metal top of the can, is somewhat cumbersome and "thick" feeling.
Frankly, at $3.39/can, you might as well go to your local coffee shop if you're in the city and get a much larger (and lighter) beverage. Or you could invest in a thermos and take your coffee with you if you were ambitious.
Still, it's a neat trick for when you happen to be in the middle of the woods and didn't mind hiking heavy cans of coffee in. I'd be more interested to see soups like this. The potential problem with using this OnTech can for soup purpose is that any "chunky bits" in the soup would get stuck in the pop-top lid. I'm sure someone will work out the problem for soup as OnTech has for beverages.