I’m a vegetarian (albeit a flawed, lazy one). I was 22 years old when soy really started to pick up steam and take the form of all kinds of awesome things; chicken nuggets, veggie burgers, hot dogs, soy. It was everyone’s favorite protein and began to make cameos in a dizzying array of foods. I blossomed in a world where everything tasted familiar and was microwaveable in 20 seconds.
But then the tide turned (it usually does). Health experts began telling us that soy was bad. It hurt your boy parts, your memory and it did time in the 70s for stabbing a guy. Soy became the new egg. It replaced corn syrup as the hated thing you hunted nutritional information for; “soy-free” was the new Organic.
So now it’s 2012. I’m 32, still a vegetarian (albeit a flawed, lazy one), and have developed a taste for soy. I don’t want beans. I don’t want shakes. I want tofu, faux chicken patties and smart dogs. I want quick protein; custom-tailored to taste like my childhood. I’m tired of wandering the aisles of Publix with tears in my eyes, mumbling, “fat-free corn dogs” and “wonder-food of 2004”. I need the Next Big Thing and I need it now, dammit. How about hummus? I bought a couple bags of hummus chips and they were totally workable. If we can roll hummus out like chips, why can’t we form it into nuggets and make them taste like chicken? McDonald’s can do it with poultry by-products and industrial solvents; can’t we do it with chickpeas?