What's in a name? "Meal replacement" vs. "Traditional food"


When Sirius and XM were invented, they realized they were creating a new product category, and thereby needed to rename the existing product category called “radio” to contrast it with their new product. That’s when Sirius and XM decided “radio” would be renamed ”terrestrial radio", and their own new product category would be called “satellite radio”. Even the terrestrial radio people went along with this.

Prior to Soylent, the primary existing categories have been “food” vs. “meal replacements”. This is not a dichotomy favorable to Soylent. We should rename “food” to “traditional food”. Does anyone have a better name suggestion than that?

What we need is a good name for Soylent’s product category that isn’t called “meal replacement”. What type of food is Soylent? I wouldn’t use “therapy food”, “instant food”, “liquid meal”, “nutrition shake” or even “powdered food”. What name should we use? “Nutrition shake” is the least horrible one, but there’s got to be a better idea out there than that. Soylent is a ________. Fill in the blank. The person with the best idea gets to be a legend.


This thread has a bunch of ideas.


“Complete food” would be great if we could get it to stick…


Crap I even searched the threads for several different terms to make sure the topic hadn’t been done. The title threw me off. I’ll read the posts and see if there’s already a consensus.


I still really like “conventional food” and that’s what we’ve taken to using in most situations.


I’m a fan of “muggle food” but that might be my geekery shining through.


eh, tbh, it’s probably good to have a new thread specifically for discussing names in general. Like I said, that thread has ideas, but at least half of it is a back-and-forth about “muggle food” in particular (as suggested by the title), and not as much about new names for either.


The Muggle Food thread had lots of discussion on what to call traditional food, but not much about what to call Soylent-like foods.


I generally refer to my DIY soylent concoctions as “nutritionally complete”.

As in “nutritionally complete” shakes, “nutritionally complete” cookies, “nutritionally complete” salads…


I like this, too. Muggle food is fine for fellow-geeks, but when I talk to my family/non-geek acquaintances, I think something as simple as “conventional food” is the best option.


Yeah I read the entire Muggle thread, and it does not address my question. I’m asking about what product category Soylent is in. As far as its opposing category, the terms “traditional food” or “conventional food” are both fine, and Soylent should use either. I prefer “traditional food” because it sounds more old-fashioned.

But as for Soylent’s category, in addition to someone suggesting “gruel”, the only other ideas for what to call Soylent’s product category were:

“Complete food” is a good start, although I don’t know if it’s neutral enough to be embraced by traditional food makers and the media.

Other existing liquid foods use “meal shake”, “nutritional shake” and “liquid nutritional supplement”. All are terrible names.

Maybe a word that uses the prefix “uni-” (single) or “omni-” (everything) to signify that it’s a single source that provides everything you need. Any food, traditional or not, that provides complete nutrition that could use the name.


[quote=“ajlipp, post:11, topic:13705”]I read the entire Muggle thread, and it does not address my question. I’m asking about what product category Soylent is in. As far as its opposing category, the terms “traditional food” or “conventional food” are both fine, and Soylent should use either. I prefer “traditional food” because it sounds more old-fashioned.

I’ve been thinking about this as well. I think Soylent and other products like it would fall into a new category of food that is best described as part of a “raw nutrient” or “quantified” diet:

A “raw nutrient diet” or “quantified diet” is a diet in which all the ingredients in each meal map to the required nutrients in an evidence-based dietary standard. The ingredients in each meal are prepared in such a way that when combined, their nutrient value is not affected.

With this definition, we can distinguish between “a whole banquet of vegetables and meats and so forth that might provide the same nutritional value as Soylent” and Soylent itself.

I think Soylent doesn’t fit in the gruel category because gruel doesn’t provide complete nutrition, and that’s the characteristic of the product that makes it distinguishable from something like Ensure or a health shake.


Sup, I’m not too vested in the outcome, but I just cringe at seeing a BIG FAT “NO” right next to my name and would like the opportunity to make it a little bit smaller. If you look at the Oxford definition of “synthesize”, you’ll see that definition 1.1 fits. And please, use the snazzy term “synth food” instead of the full one. It rolls off the tongue better.

Also, I think the topic of what the retronym of “food” should be has been beaten to death many times over. Let’s be productive and brainstorm what we should call the category of food that Soylent is in! A possible avenue to explore could be something alongs the lines of molecular gastronomy.


I propose “vintage food” and “designer food” as naturally if this takes off there will be different designs such as ketogenic


ok ok I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I just typed “no” because I didn’t like the idea of calling it “synthetic” or “synthesized” food. That makes me think of those plastic models of meals they often display in the windows of Japanese restaurants. It’s not personal, and it’s not like I have some authority anyway. I like that you’re thinking, because I think this is a more important issue than what to call traditional food. Is there as Latin prefix that means whole/complete?


This is already done. The name is “soylent”. Everybody right now speaks about “diy solyent” and the “official soylent”. Why not just stick with it? The food category could just be named soylent, even when (and if) in a few years you got like 5 different products to choose from (with the same ambition).


Pizza is a “traditional food”. Grilled chicken is a "traditional food ".

Soylent is a _______. You’ve got to be able to fill in that blank when writing about this product. If not, it’s going to get filled in with “meal replacement” or “nutrition shake”. When someone is writing about what Soylent is, they can’t describe the type of product as Soylent is “Soylent”. Yeah, but what is it? And if another company creates a competing product, then that new product should be called a “Soylent” too? No.


Reductionist food
Raw-nutrient food
Synth food
Unconventional food
Non-traditional food
Science food
Wizard food
Intelligent food
Future food


I still like “complete food”, though “Raw-nutrient food” could be shortened to “nutrient food”. Other options would be “Engineered food”, “formulated food”, “Omnifood” or “second generation food”.


I use complete food, and also efficient food. Soylent, at this point, cannot be defined by one or two words because the general knowledge is not there. Soylent needs multiple sentences to get people to understand what it actually is and why one should be interested. Think elevator pitch.