A few weeks ago in newsletter #42, I wrote a review of the food product called NUGGS. Apparently, someone snitch tagged the newsletter, and my review got back to NUGGS headquarters.
Ben Pasternak, the CEO of SIMULATE, the makers of NUGGS, reached out to me to say that they recently launched NUGGS 2.0. They wanted to send me a complimentary box to try them again and see if I liked the new formula.
Of course, let's do it!
This email is not sponsored, I am not getting paid (fuck me), and I was under no obligation to write a new review.
NUGGS v 1.6 / NUGGS v 2.0
When the new box of NUGGS arrived, I wasn't exactly excited to try them. My original experience with them was subpar, and I wasn't imagining them being all that much better.
As you can see, the box changed a little bit. Other than that, everything else from the shipping package to the look and feel of the frozen NUGGS remained the same.
Long story short, NUGGS 2.0 are considerably better than NUGGS 1.6. I paired them with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, because that's the only sauce worth saucing, but these are good enough you could eat them without sauce. If I had friends, and I was hosting a dinner party, I would serve these to them for dinner.
Excited about this much improved nugget experience, I emailed Ben back, told him I liked NUGGS 2.0 and asked if he'd answer a few questions for the newsletter.
Please note, If you are feeling terrible about your life and career and don't think you've accomplished much, be prepared to feel even shittier. Ben is twenty years old.
Noah: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you found your way into the alternative meat industry?
Ben: I’m from Sydney. I always have been into technology. I got into building software when I was 13. I raised venture capital when I was 15. I dropped out of school, and moved to New York City alone. I founded a video chat app for teenagers to meet over like-minded interests called Monkey. It grew to 20 million users and was acquired when I was 18.
I then spent time working out what I wanted to build for the rest of my life. I was quite quickly sucked into how primitive the nutrition space was, and you quickly learn that currently the core issues are caused by the use of animals in food production.
So figured that’d be what I focused my time on first.
Noah: The branding and design direction for NUGGS is really great. Who did you work with, and what was the process like?
Ben: The initial branding was done by Ryder Ripps. And now we do it all internally with our Creative Director Josh Kaplan. Ryder describes the brand as MoMA meets McDonalds, which feels accurate. The intent was to do the reverse of what everyone else is doing (green tree loving vegan type brands).
Noah: I don’t think I am your target demographic, but the rooster on the box really spoke to me. Also, I am interested in advances in alternative meat, so I decided to give NUGGS a try. Who did you make NUGGS for? Are those the kinds of people who are buying your product, or are you finding it’s different than what you imagined?
Ben: Everyone is our target market. The box is bold and garners a lot of interest. We’re seeing a lot of millennial age people buying it for a whole variety of different reasons.
Noah: A criticism I hear about alternative meat is that it is “highly processed,” and as a result it isn’t actually good for you. What is your take on food processing in the alternative meat industry? Perhaps you can dispel some misconceptions.
Ben: All food is processed. We can not feed everyone without processing food. While highly processed food has a bad reputation due to the deterioration of nutrition - we are a pro-process company. We believe that by processing food we can turn food that a certain type of person might not want to eat - into something that same person does want to eat - which is ultimately good for the planet. Seems pretty good to me.
Also, the idea that animal-based meat is not processed is simply false.
Noah: The first box of NUGGS I ordered wasn't that great. That was version 1.6. Version 2.0 is a massive improvement, and I truly enjoyed them. The “chicken” part of the NUGG was much firmer and had a brighter and cleaner interior color. It resembles chicken in look and taste infinitely more than the first version I tried. What did you do differently? How do you hope to improve on version 2.0, or is this the final recipe?
BEN: SIMULATE is a Nutrition company that operates with a Software framework. We are always iterating on our products and making them better. Primarily, new extrusion technology enables NUGGS 2.0 big improvements.
Noah: Are you going to move into other alternative chicken styles besides nuggets? Chicken fries or cutlets, maybe? What is the future for NUGGS?
Ben: SIMULATE is launching many other products shortly. One in less than a month.
Noah: Is there anything not work related that you are excited about lately? Anything you’d like to recommend?
Ben: I’ve recently been investing a lot of energy into sleeping better. I got an Eight Sleep mattress and it’s interesting tech. Not sure that I have fully utilized its features yet but I definitely enjoy effortless metric tracking of my sleep. You sleep 1/3 of your life - so it’s a pretty good thing to optimize for. And that 1/3 has a direct effect on the other 2/3. Super obvious investment. I view SIMULATE as a human energy company. So one day it might make sense for SIMULATE to build sleep tech.
Thank you, Ben, for taking the time to answer some questions. I think we are all a little bit more informed now.
But we all know that's not what we are here for.
We need to know if NUGGS 2.0 are good enough for Marcel.
When presented with NUGGS 2.0, Marcel initially seemed hesitant. I think he remembered our experience from last time.
I told Marcel, this is a new formula, and I actually really enjoyed them.
The Last Dance - (Now on Netflix) I know I'm late to this. If you were a basketball fan in the early 90's this is serious flashback central. I have PTSD from the 1993 Knicks vs Bulls game 5 and seeing Charles Smith get blocked four times under the basket again triggered me!!! I basically stopped watching basketball after that day. I despised the Bulls back then. There is so much to unpack in this documentary. Anyway, these guys got super old, and it's really crazy. We've all gotten old. Life is depressing.
NUGGS - Do you want to try a new food experience? Use coupon code NOAH10. You'll get a discount. I don't get anything (FUCK ME!!!).
1774 State Route 97 - It looks like a guy named "Jersey John" bought this place a few years ago, but apparently that fell through. Phew, we dodged a bullet! It's back on the market, and the price doesn't seem that bad. However, it needs a ton of work (I've been inside). I'd estimate you'd probably need to invest another 300k-500K to get it up to speed. That said, what else are you doing right now? Seriously. Have you not dreamed of owning a hotel and restaurant on a river? What, are you going to die with a pile of money? Offer 220K. Stop dreaming, start living!!!