Foodarackacycle To Menulator, How The Jetsons' Meals Were Made
Image Credit: Jane Jetson gets Leroy's breakfast from the Foodarackacycle

IN Episode 18 of The Jetsons, George returns to his apartment complex to find smoke emanating from the rooms of the building supervisor, Henry. He quickly loops in the fire-fighting system, only to realise the “fire” is actually just the man cooking his dinner on his trusty old kitchen stovetop. Henry’s been frying up some “Martian Meatballs,” he blithely informs George, after being doused in copious amounts of fire extinguisher. 

After some banter, George heads to his own home to find an entirely different “cooking” scene unfolding. His son Leroy is seated in front of a large machine called the “Menulator”, with an array of buttons, as he calls out the names of food. “Peanut butter, liverwurst, sardine, baloney,” Leroy calls out after some deliberation, and out of the Menulator pops a rather large sandwich, comprising (presumably) all the ingredients the boy just listed. 

The Menulator is not the point of the episode (instead it focuses on Jane Jetson’s attempts to earn her driving licence), but it is typical of the ways in which food related technology was scattered throughout the futuristic world of the Jetsons. 

An appliance in the Menulator’s mould was the Foodarackacycle, that the Jetsons made good use of. With a keyboard for programming meals and a switchboard that helped make and dispense a meal of the person’s choice, it was the equivalent of a personal chef-cum-kitchen-cum-refrigerator all in one. A scene in one episode has Jane asking Leroy what he would like for his breakfast, and as he shares his preferences, she adds her own qualifications to each item whilst entering them into the machine. Thus, cereal (which follows mil) has her choosing the “silent” option, while egg (which follows bacon) is made to the specification of “soft boiled”. No sooner is the input completed, than a tray with these items appears in front of Leroy, pushed up from a chute that opens onto the table top.

But not even the Foodarackacycle can satisfy everyone’s demands. That soft-boiled egg, for instance, never appears, even though Jane repeatedly jabs the button with her finger. (She complains about having a case of “push button finger” as a consequence.) Finally, a rather large egg zooms before Leroy, only for the shell to crack and reveal the whole roast chicken contained within. (Yes, we know that makes *zero* sense, even in the world of the Jetsons.)

Later in the same episode, it emerges that the Foodarackacycle is an outdated model (“an antique monster!” Jane proclaims) whose internal circuitry has gotten crossed, leading to tea being served to George instead of coffee, his breakfast bacon being undercooked, and his eggs cold. Jane insists that it’s time to buy a new one, though George insists they can’t afford it. Ultimately, Jane employs a new robot-maid, Rosey, to take over some of the cooking responsibilities — but not before the Foodarackacycle shoots a “Flying Sausage Pizza”, boomerang-style, around the room at dinnertime.

Two other machines enter the Jetsons’ lives to take the place of the defunct Foodarackacycle. The Electronicook certainly seems to have a wider range of options, displaying on one occasion, dishes such as egg supreme, beef supreme, steak, fish and chips; on another, it has an even more varied menu, offering hamburger, marinated fish, roast turkey, chicken, “diet lunch”, hot dog alamode, French fries and duck! On the other hand, we see the Food-O-Matic being used for meal options that include comfort dishes like chops, steaks, beans and mush, and also slightly more diverse fare: think eggs four ways (poached, fried, scrambled etc), fried chicken, potato and zucchini, hash and shrimp, and also mysteriously labelled buttons that promise “leftover …” and the very generic “food…” While neither of these machines ever attain Flying Sausage Pizza levels of notoriety a la the Foodarackacycle, the Jetsons seemingly can’t cope with even the most minor of malfunctions on the part of these machines.