The weirdest stuff crosses my desk. I can’t explain it. I am editor of a book-related magazine. I’m an author. Those things considered, you’d think marketers would tailor their press releases to my areas on interest: you’d think I was mostly always only hearing about books. And though that’s the bulk of what I read about, I still get sent a lot of non-book-related stuff I just find inexplicable. Information on products I would never, ever in a million years even think to write about.

For instance, when going through a bunch of press releases today, I came across one for something intended to “bring back ‘cool’ to back to school,” the Zojirushi Lunch Jar. Now normally I would have tossed the press kit but there’s just something so solid and sane about this idea, I decided to share it. I mean, what the hell, right? It may not be books, but we gotta eat.

All boiled down, Zojirushi makes these very 21st century bento boxes, intended to allow you to eat well on the road. Since western culture seems to currently be floundering in too much take-out fat, this is a good idea to explore. In each model, a set number of microwaveable and washable bowls with lids live inside a vacuum-sealed cylinder, keeping foods either cold or hot. What you end up with is a new take on several classic ideas -- a blend of east and west, if you will. Inspired on the one hand by the beautiful lacquered Japanese bento boxes of old, and on the other by the western thermos bottle that colored so many youthful lunches. Zojirushi seems to have taken the best of both of these ideas, ending up with a lunch pack that is beautiful and functional and that makes it possible to take hot -- or cold -- home-made lunches to work, school or wherever disgusting foods are sold.

Three models allow mobile diners to tailor their bento to their needs. The Ms. Bento is fashionable -- almost purse-like -- and its vacuum-sealed cylinder comes with two containers and chopsticks in their own special holder. The Mr. Bento comes with four (count 'em) containers and a specially designed forked spoon. The new Mini Bento (pictured above) is the smallest entry. It comes with two small containers, chopsticks in their own holder and a fashionable little tote. It’s almost enough to make me want to change my life enough that I have to go away in the middle of the day to eat.



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