Imagine living in a world where amazing meals fell from the sky. A world where hot sandwiches gently float into your hands via parachute. Well, thanks to three friends from Australia who started something called Jafflechutes – we live in that world.
A Jaffle is a sandwich. Chutes are….little parachutes. And how Jaffelchutes works is at designated times you go to their website. You Paypal them six bucks. They tell you a time and a place to show up, and they parachute you a sandwich from above.
When Brendan caught up with one of the partners, Adam Grant, he asked him the obvious question – “When you came up with this, were you high?”
Adam Grant: Ummm…Maybe the idea was perfected and sharpened with –
Brendan Francis Newnam: Mind-altering substances?
Adam Grant: Maybe. There was a lot of beer, I’ll say that.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Do you have a background in cooking or anything, or is this just kind of a fun stunt?
Adam Grant: I guess my background in cooking is working in a pizza shop when I was about 13 or 14, so, I mean, technically, yes, but, I mean, I’ve always described Jafflechutes as a parachute company rather than a sandwich company. We’ve put a lot of thought into the sandwiches, but we put more thought into the parachutes ’cause at the end of the day, the parachutes can’t fail. The sandwiches kinda can.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So there are two parts of this project, the jaffle and the chutes, and for an American, the word jaffle is really bizarre, so can you explain what a jaffle is?
Adam Grant: So, a jaffle is basically a grilled cheese that’s sealed around the edges and kind of separated through the middle to cut it into a triangle. I don’t think it’s a uniquely Australian thing, but it’s definitely something kind of ingrained in Australian culture.
Brendan Francis Newnam: The word jaffle, is that unique to Australia?
Adam Grant: The jaffle refers to the jaffle iron, which is the traditional way of cooking the sandwich, which is a huge metal clamp that you would fit the sandwich into and then hold over a campfire, I suppose. And then in the ’70s, Breville came along and created this electronic jaffle maker that we use today.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And it’s spelled like waffle, but it’s jaffle.
Adam Grant: Yeah. Waffle with a J.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Is the jaffle almost an ideal food for this sort of delivery system, because, with the edges sealed, the things can’t slide out of it?
Adam Grant: Yup, absolutely. Yeah, so you can’t really do a pizza – I mean, you could do a pizza slice, but logistically, it would be a little bit more difficult. A hot dog would be a disaster.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Tell me about how many jafflechute events you’ve had. It works like a popup, correct?
Adam Grant: We’ve been around for about 14 months now. I’ve kind of lost count, but I imagine we’ve done probably around 16, 17, 18 drops of different sizes, some of those up to 150 jafflechutes, some of those just one, but quite a few. And yeah, we call it pop-up float-downs, so, we never operate in the same place twice. We’ll pop up in a new spot in the city, put down an X, drop sandwiches via parachute for an hour or so, and then disappear into the night.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Now, is that because this probably isn’t legal?
Adam Grant: You know, I’ve never really looked into it, kind of out of fear of what I might discover.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Have you encountered any negative critiques of the Jafflechute?
Adam Grant: Very few, actually. I think we put a lot of thought into how we describe what it is that we do, and we certainly don’t take it seriously, and we don’t ever want anyone to think that we’re taking it seriously. It’s all in good fun.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, there’s the jaffle, which is the sandwich, and there’s the chute. This is like a circle the size of a manhole of orange plastic with a hole in the middle. Can you explain what I’m looking at here?
Adam Grant: It’s just a garbage bag that we’ve cut into a circular shape. We got these designs off kind of hobbyist websites set up by ex-military, like old men that make bottle rockets in their spare time, and we kinda took their designs, that are quite complex, and simplified them and worked out how we could do them using materials that you find at a hardware store. This one, it’s quite crinkled because we’ve recycled it a few times. We’ll put a coat hanger or something downstairs and ask people to recycle their parachutes.
Brendan Francis Newnam: There’s tape on – is that just holding it together, this red tape on the edges?
Adam Grant: Yeah, yeah, so the string would go in here.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Looks like fishing line?
Adam Grant: It’s kind of fishing line, it’s not as good as fishing line. It’s quite thick. So, we just line that up along the edge like that and stick it down with tape, and that’s it.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Have you ever thought about edible chutes made of fruit rollups or something like that, like fruit leather?
Adam Grant: That is a bad idea, but, I mean, it’s the kind of bad idea that might work.
Brendan Francis Newnam: He who lives in glass houses should not throw stones, even if they have parachutes.
Adam Grant: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Alright. So, can you make me a sandwich and then throw it off a roof to me?
Adam Grant: Sure, I’ve got some stuff in the fridge.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, through the magic of radio, you’ve built our sandwiches and they’re about to be jaffled?
Adam Grant: Yeah, that’s right. So, they’re just regular sandwiches, but buttered on the outside. That’s to stop it from sticking and to make it look beautiful, I think.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, let’s hear the jaffle sound. All that fat and cheese. It’s gonna be so good.
Adam Grant: Alright, well, let’s go do it.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, now I’m outside, waiting for adam to drop a grilled cheese on me with a little parachute. Here we go. Oh, oh. I missed it. There it is. Alright. My jaffle has arrived. I’m gonna wait for Adam to join me, and then we’ll eat our jaffles. How do you – oh, oh, I dropped my chute. Chute down. Oh my gosh. Sorry about that. Alright, here we go, about to eat my jaffle. Cheers, that’s what you say in Australia, right?
Adam Grant: We could do that, cheers.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, a little soggy, but good. It was so much fun getting to it. It almost replicates like chasing down a wild animal in the savanna and tackling it, and then finally getting to bite into it.
Adam Grant: Maybe that’s key to Jafflechute’s success.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Have you ever had any Jafflechute hostility from passersby?
Adam Grant: Not that I’ve ever seen. We did hit a police car once, and they did stop and they did get out of the car, and they looked up and they saw what was happening and then, I guess there are bigger fish to fry on a Friday night, so we got by.
Brendan Francis Newnam: They’re like, “uh, it’s just the hipsters again.”