Soylent has transitioned from drinkable meals to complete nutrition platform with the release of Soylent Squared. According to Soylent’s chief executive officer, Bryan Crowley, “We basically start as a meal replacement drink mostly consumed in the morning and powder in a ready to drink format. Now we’re a complete nutrition platform that you can enjoy any time of the day in multiple formats.”
And Soylent fans have a reason to rejoice because their choices have increased. But there are some fans who would rather have the company release more flavors in its powdered meal replacement line.
When the company first discussed bringing a “portioned, chewable nutrition” to the market, its people first thought of it being a cube. But it turned out that cubes are a challenging thing to do and so the Soylent Squared was created.
Squared bars are actually small nutrition bars designed to be snacks instead of complete meals, unlike the company’s meal replacement drinks. Each square contains 100 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 36 vitamins. These are chewable mini-meals shaped like perfect squares, not cubes, which makes them just a tad boring in appearance.
For Soylent fans, Squared is an obvious step from their favorite liquid drinks to their possibly favorite solid snack. But to the rest of the world, it’s just another snack-size protein bar that may or may not taste good.
Squared isn’t the first chewable food that Soylent has released but it may well be the first successful one. In 2016, Soylent released the Food Bar, its first attempt at a solid nutrition bar, but then soon pulled it from circulation due to reports of uncontrollable diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, and severe dehydration in customers. Some customers were reportedly rushed to the emergency room due to their symptoms.
In 2017, Soylent’s expansion into Canada when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency concluded that its product wasn’t a “meal replacement” in accordance with the agency’s requirements.
Even with its drinks, Soylent has ran into issues with consumers and regulatory authorities. In 2016, the company stopped sales of Soylent 1.6 powder after reports of its adverse effects on customers. This was two weeks before Soylent also stopped the sales of the Food Bar.
Time will tell whether Squared will fit in squarely with both Soylent’s product lines and the nutrition bar market instead of becoming the second Food Bar. The company seems to be hard at work in ensuring that its products aren’t just safe to eat but enjoyable to eat, especially in terms of taste, too.
Crowley said that Soylent was previously about “function, function, function” but the company’s now using words like enjoyment and innovation in its mission. His focus on innovation has resulted in the release of several new products in recent years and Squared is just one of them.
Squared is actually the second product launched by Soylent. The first one was Bridge, a low-calorie, protein rich drink in a carton. When it was first released, Crowley said that it will help Soylent bring in more women into the fold of its plant-based, vitamin-rich products.
Soylent customers consist of 65% men and 35% women, thus, Crowley’s statement made sense.
The step from liquid to solid is in line with Soylent’s innovative approaches to food and its definition. Soylent touts its powdered drinks and ready-to-drink meal replacements as a step beyond food although these aren’t meant to be complete replacements of food. Instead, these products were marketed as super-food for the super-person in Silicon Valley and beyond.
Even Crowley has been emphatic in saying that consumers shouldn’t live solely on Soylent. He doesn’t recommend it – “Absolutely. 100%” – not because it isn’t healthy or it isn’t there but because complete substitution is a “very difficult thing to do”. Even if regular food is completely substituted in favor of Soylent’s beverages, “it happens for a very limited amount of time”, he added.
The Soylent line started when Rob Rhinehart invented and introduced the product in a blog post. He said that he felt like “the six million dollar man” soon after he drank it, and it’s a claim that the company continues to reinforce in one form or another.
Soylent was quickly adopted as the preferred drink of choice among young affluent technology workers who wanted food replacement products that can improve their efficiency and productivity. Basically, the Soylent drinks enhanced their performance not just by introducing calories, protein, and vitamins to their bodies but also decreasing the time spent on eating regular food.
Soon enough, the small but loyal band of Soylen fans grew until such time that the brand became known among non-Silicon Valley consumers. There’s even a Soylent Reddit community with more than 34,000 members, and the company pays close attention to its loyal users.
As a Silicon Valley company – yes, it’s a tech company that actually markets itself as “open source” – it displays the full ingredients for its 1.5 and 1.6 products on its website.