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Soylent 1.4: a quick review

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Soylent, the nutrition powder that replaces joy with scientific optimization, is the only food in the world that I'm aware of to use software-style version numbers. It's a bit weird, but it's also befitting the brand's style as a 1337 "food hack," I think.

The company recently released version 1.4, which has a number of substantial changes — in fact, Soylent calls it "the most significant update" since the product launched, and after trying it, I'd have to agree. Here are the highlights of what's new, according to Soylent's blog post from last month:

  • Significantly less fiber. Soylent says this is for "improved digestion," which makes sense — previous revisions had tried to make Soylent less painful and gassy to drink with moderate success, but even 1.1 (the last version I tried) hadn't totally solved the issue.
  • More fat, less carbs, less protein. This is also about improved digestibility, apparently, and better satiation. Soylent says the blend still provides "optimum nutrition."
  • Different serving size. Previously, Soylent had shown nutritional facts on its label as a third of a bag, assuming the user would drink it three times per day. Most people don't do that, it seems, so now they indicate it in fourths. (I usually have a small glass in the morning, a larger glass midday, and two large glasses in the evening, so I never really paid much attention to the serving size anyway.)
  • More salt. Soylent was known to not meet sodium minimums before — the problem was that if they put enough salt in the package, the whole thing would taste weird. (Not to say Soylent doesn't already taste a little weird.) Now, they're using a slow-burning carb called isomaltulose to make it sweet enough to add enough salt.

And here's the big one:

  • No more bottle of oil. Previously, making Soylent was a two-step process: you had to add the big bag of powder, then you had to add a little bottle of blended oil. Through some miracles of chemistry that I don't fully understand, Soylent's fats are now inside the powdered mix. This is super handy for traveling with Soylent, and also means that you don't have a bunch of oil bottles sitting around that can leak. (The second-generation bottles were less prone to leaking, but there's always a chance.)

I bought some Soylent 1.4 last week and have already received it, which is apparently because they already had my information on file from a previous order; current customers are prioritized over new ones, and I'm told that new customers are still waiting several weeks. The company is in the process of spinning up two new factories that will allegedly deliver "50 times" the manufacturing capacity, so those delays should eventually evaporate.

A more consumer-friendly product

I've been using it this week after exhausting my supply of 1.1, and I have to say, I love the new blend. It's considerably thicker, smoother, and has a milder taste. It's also less... brown, which is psychologically helpful, I think. It just kind of looks like a regular banana yogurt smoothie now, and has a similar consistency. It's also easier to make — the elimination of the oil bottle is a big deal, and the powder is now smoother and less clumpy. It seems less likely to spill or cloud when you first open the bag.

Basically, Soylent 1.4 is a more appealing product for the masses, which seems appropriate considering the 50x boost in manufacturing capacity. (Now, about the name "Soylent"...)

I'll probably keep drinking this. I'm certainly more likely to than I was with 1.1.

Update March 25th, 12:40PM ET: I've been told by a number of readers that even new customers are getting their shipments within a few days, so it looks like they're catching up on the backlog.

Verge Video: Surviving on Soylent