The Detonation Tenderizer: A Literal Flavor Explosion
Over the years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rounded up herds of ideas for tenderizing meat, from the familiar (spiky hammers, enzymatic tenderizers) to the outlandish (using pressure pulses or acoustic waves on submerged meat). But none packed quite the punch of U.S. Patent No. 3,492,688 A, understatedly titled "Apparatus for tenderizing food." Submitted by Charles S. Godfrey in 1966, the method called for breaking up tough fibers in subprime cuts via high explosives. Bomb and beef would bathe in the same water-filled tank to maximize the effect [source: USPTO].
Godfrey thought that the high explosive approach would blow past the shortcomings of other pressure techniques by creating a much more dramatic and sudden pressure change at the shock front. He might have been onto something, since several other patents have since built on the idea, and at least one company has put it into practice [sources: Lee; USPTO].
A pioneer of early nuclear weapons research, Godfrey was also a seasoned veteran of explosive technologies. In addition to helping design the diminutive test nukes set off on Eniwetok Atoll in the 1950s, he held patents in high velocity explosives and shaped explosives and the use of explosives in rock fracturing and excavation [source: Los Angeles Times].