Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Sad Robot Tour

What Robots Think Of The Damn Food You're Eating

Robots! They like food too. I guess. I mean why not?

I always liked the idea of sentient robots obsessed with food. They wouldn’t necessarily crave cupcakes in the middle of their workday or salami and BBQ chips (a personal favorite of mine) before going to bed, but they’d crave the casual rituals people have developed for consuming food. They'd wonder about the experience of taste!

So I spend a lot of time wondering what robots think food tastes like -- even though they can’t taste -- just by the names of foods alone.

In Sad Robot Stories, I riff on this thought a little in the following paragraph:

Casserole! What a word! Robot thought it sounded absolutely beautiful. The word casserole made him yearn for lips, made him yearn to feel how words, how this word specifically, rolled off the tongue he didn’t have. He’d never wanted a tongue or lips until he heard the word casserole. And he had no idea what casserole was, but the construction of the word! The sound of it all! It was something Robot never really knew: wholesome. It sounded amazing.

Here are a few more meals and how a robot might interpret them. I wrote the interpretations in the same third person my book is written in. So it's not so much in the point-of-view of a robot, as it's in the point-of-view of some esteral being interpreting a robots thoughts.

Hamsteak (my favorite meal as a kid): Hamsteak! What a word!

What a miserable, miserable word.

To Robot, hamsteak sounds like the kind of meal that might make a human give up on all food. Robot was surprised that the fear of a food named hamsteak, which sounded to his mechanical listening devices like suffocating to death under a mound of dirt, didn't make humans slowly starve themselves to death.

Quiche: Quiche! What a word!

You can't trust quiche, is what Robot thinks he'd think, were he human.

Quiche sounds like a comfortable chair that, upon being sat in, sinks too much. And while that experience, like quiche, is something robot has never experienced, he's certain he wouldn't like it.


Peas: Peas! What a word!

Peas sound like they'll do. They'll just do. To Robot, peas are nearly sad, because they sound under appreciated. Like a day that's not too hot or too cold, yet it's optimal temperature never crosses your mind.

Peas are "you don't know what you got till its gone" (and you're hungry).

When robot hears the word "peas," he becomes suddenly aware of the screws and bolts holding him together. Suddenly aware of how perfectly they fit his frame, how perfectly they keep him together.

Whenever Robot hears the word "peas," he feels bad he doesn't appreciate the screws and bolts holding him together more.

Pizza: Pizza! What a word!

What a weird word.

Foods cut down in their prime, that's what pizza sounds like to Robot. Yet the sum of the individual pieces of pizza, the fragments of separate wholes, becomes a fuller whole in their combination.

Pizza isn't the ocean. Robot imagines that pizza is like a nice, private pool. Maybe it's in someone's back yard. All your friends are there and they're smiling. It can get better than this, but not by much.


Mason Johnson is a writer from Chicago who currently works full time writing and editing articles for CBS. You can find his fiction at Also, he pets all the cats.


  1. Pizza may sound weird as a word but when I go and fix blocked drains, it is a lifesaver when I go hungry. Respect the pizza!

  2. I am in the carport business and when I look for carport prices pretoria based business opportunities, I love doing so when having a lovely quiche.