Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
Because of the extended stay-at-home orders from the city and state, I find myself spending more time on the internet. This led me to a website that I originally visited for hurricane preparedness, Indiegogo (indiegogo.com), a San Francisco-based crowdfunding website that started in 2008. This organization gives innovative entrepreneurs a platform from which to raise funds from donors like me to complete the manufacturing and distribution of their products. The Indiegogo site points out that purchases fund the production of innovative products; in a worst-case scenario, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll actually receive the end product. But so far, I’ve received several items, albeit delayed due to COVID-19.
So why donate if nothing is guaranteed? Crowdfunders are the early adopters who potentially receive a product well before the general public, at a lower cost; usually 20% to 30% below the intended retail price. Here are some recent Indiegogo products I funded that have made me happy.
An established company that produces a wide range of solar-cooking devices, GoSun produced Chill, its battery-operated cooler, with crowdfunds raised through Indiegogo. I funded this project almost two years ago, to build my hurricane kit. Even if a hurricane doesn’t make landfall in the 50th, any increase in wind speed can cause spot power outages, a frequent occurrence in Kāne‘ohe.
My wife and I intended to store our workday lunches in the Chill cooler during these outages, as you don’t really want to open your refrigerator door once the power goes out. We also find the Chill useful when we attend potluck dinners and don’t want to transport a heavy cooler filled with ice. GoSun’s regular price for Chill is $749 but it routinely goes on sale for $699; compare this to my “donation” cost of just $499.
Eto Wine Preservation Carafe
After funding the GoSun Chill, I viewed a unique carafe that supposedly kept an open bottle of wine fresh for at least two weeks after uncorking the bottle. Once a bottle of wine is uncorked, volatile flavor compounds dissipate over time; if exposed to oxygen for an extended period, ethyl alcohol converts to acetic acid, or vinegar. For younger bottles of wine, you want the oxygen to let the wine “breathe” – that’s why you see sommeliers decant wine into a carafe, to facilitate this process. But you don’t want the oxygenation to continue, especially if you want to save the unfinished bottle of wine.
The Eto carafe allows you to decant the wine, then purge the air out of the carafe once you’re finished imbibing. Renowned wine expert, Jancis Robinson MW (Master of Wine), stated that she sampled wine stored in the Eto carafe two weeks later, and it tasted exactly like it did when it was uncorked. The Eto carafe currently costs $155 to $168, but my “donation” was just $109.
The Elevated Craft Cocktail Shaker
You probably know by now that I enjoy a nicely shaken cocktail (or two) and that I even have a couple of my own cocktail shakers. But when you vigorously shake a cocktail, the stainless steel shaker can give a chill to your hands, and it takes some finesse to pop the top off. Then, after pouring your cocktail in the appropriate glass, you’re left with chilled stainless steel that’s sweating from the condensation, leaving a puddle on your kitchen counter.
To solve these issues, the Elevated Craft shaker has a vacuum-sealed double-wall, like Hydroflasks, so no condensation or frost-bitten hands. The top twists off after you shake your libation, and it also has measuring lines within the inner cap, from 7.5 ml all the way up to 180 ml, so you don’t need an additional jigger or measuring cup to create your cocktails. I donated $89 for a pair of shakers; they haven’t stated what the actual retail price is, as they are still mailing the shakers to the original crowdfunders.
Still Waiting for Fulfillment
I have a couple other cooking accoutrements that I am waiting to receive. The first is the Prepd cast-iron skillet which has the same benefit of superior heat retention as other cast-iron skillets – except that the interior cooking surface is milled so smoothly, the pan is advertised as non-stick, and that Prepd pre-seasons the skillet before shipping, so you can use it as soon as it arrives! The same company also produces Cheat Sheets, sheet pans that have fitted silicone inserts that can be heated up to 450 degrees and keep individual food items separate without having to waste aluminum foil as a divider.
Finally, I funded a Carivino wine carrier, a wine-bottle-shaped device that’s a vacuum sealed, double-walled carrier and that’s also ceramic lined. So the wine is never in contact with the stainless steel that keeps chilled wine cold for up to a full day. It also has a bottom that screws off, concealing two titanium crystal-wine glasses and a corkscrew. The Carivino was expected to ship in August 2019, but various delays and multiple parts produced in China — on top of COVID-19 — led to the one-year+ delay. The company’s last update in August 2020 stated that they hoped to start shipping as you’re reading this. You may be wondering why I donated to this item, as it’s meant to transport wine to be consumed at picnics or beach gatherings, and as our state prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public venues. Well, it was just one of those items that seemed so cool, I just had to get it!
Non-Food or Wine Items
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which will probably continue for at least until next summer, there are many companies producing facemasks beyond the simple cloth or surgical ones. Two of these feature filtration systems are tighter than medical-grade N-95 respirators, as N-99 filters. I’m sure you’re now aware that regular facemasks whether cotton or surgical are primarily meant to prevent the wearer from spreading the coronavirus, and that only medical grade N-95 respirators really protect the wearer from getting infected. And because front-line hospital workers need a new mask for every shift (technically, they should be changed with every patient seen), and there still isn’t an abundant supply for everyone, N-95s aren’t recommended for general daily use by the public. So many companies are producing facemasks with medical-grade N-99 filters in silicone masks that provide a tighter seal around the mouth and nose; instead of replacing the whole mask, only the filter needs to be replaced, which is a lot friendlier to the environment. Some masks even feature UV-C inserts that sterilize air after passing through the N-99 filter. And yes, I have donated to the production of these items too:
• S2 Silicone Mask – A silicone mask with an N-99 filter. I donated $36. And once all crowd-funders receive their mask, the price goes to $59.
• Breathe 99 N2 Mask – Another silicone-based mask with dual N-99 filters. I donated $99 for a pair of masks.
• Leaf UV – A soft, clear mask with HEPA N-99 filtration and UV-C sterilization. I donated $89 for one mask though there are multiple delays in production.
• UVMask – A 100% airtight mask with N-95 filtration and lab-tested 99.9% UV sterilization. We donated $199 for a pair of masks.
While I still wear my two-layered cotton mask with PM 2.5 filter insert whenever I’m in public to prevent spreading COVID-19, I also want to make sure I’m also protected from the general public. And though I could accomplish that by isolating myself in my zombie-apocalypse bunker until next summer, I do have to leave occasionally to purchase wine for my Carivino wine carrier and Eto carafe and liquor to make cocktails in my Elevated Craft Cocktail Shaker.
(I don’t actually have a zombie-apocalypse bunker.)
Ryan Tatsumoto is a clinical pharmacist by day. In his off-hours, however, he and his wife enjoy seeking out perfect marriages of food and wine. Ryan is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of wine. The Windward O‘ahu resident also writes a column for San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Weekly called “The Gochiso Gourmet” (nichibei.org/columns/gochiso-gourmet/).