Grilled cheese sandwiches by mail? Feeding a need in the digital age

More and more food vendors are trying to divert customers from traditional businesses such as grocery stores and take-away restaurants. Grilled cheese sandwich subscription, anyone?

Cheese Posties is the latest food delivery company to hit Kickstarter

Cheese Posties mails subscribers everything needed to make a grilled cheese sandwich. (Cheese Posties/Facebook)

Hoping to echo the success of Airbnb in the tourism industry or Uber in the taxi business, more and more food delivery companies are trying to divert customers from traditional business models such as grocery stores and restaurants – by any means necessary.

Take, for example, a new startup out of the U.K. called Cheese Posties. Co-founder Dave Rotheroe said the company has one specific goal - to get more grilled cheese sandwiches to more people.  

"People sign up on a subscription basis [and] they get all the components of a grilled sandwich in the [mail], along with a Teflon toastie bag which they put together, toast and enjoy," he said. 

Cheese Posties ran a Kickstarter campaign to build a grilled cheese delivery service. (Cheese Posties/Kickstarter)
It's billed on the company's Kickstarter page as "The World's First Grilled Cheese Sandwich Subscription." It might sound like a joke, but Rotheroe insists it's serious business.

"The primary audience we're looking at is office workers," he explained. "Having worked in an office in central London myself, it's a depressing situation when you have to use 30 of your 60-minute lunch break walking down to the market, standing in a queue just to get a mediocre sandwich."

Rotheroe added that people like the element of surprise and enjoy getting what feels like a little gift in the mail. 

Food 'disrupters'

There have been other unusual attempts by startup-minded entrepreneurs to disrupt conventional food service. For the past year, a company called Soylent has been offering a carbohydrate-rich concoction of ingredients, including vitamin and mineral powders, protein, maltodextrin and oats, blended into a milkshake-like beverage. It's literally meant to replace food.

David Chang, the well-known New York chef, has a much more relatable idea. Earlier this year, he launched Maple, a chef-driven, app-based service that allows chefs to ditch high-rent, physical locations by focusing solely on preparing food for delivery.

In the process, they forego the overhead of running a traditional front-of-house restaurant – and they don't need to be located in the trendiest, priciest areas to attract customers.

In the past year, Silicon Valley venture capitalists have helped fund a handful of growing food startups. The underlying message seems to be that the current food services industry is inefficient, not meeting our modern needs and requires an overhaul.

And if the tech world doesn't have all the answers, it is at least providing some appetizing ideas.