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[VIDEO] Watch This Robot Feed a Runner Sweet Tomato Nourishment

These days, if you want your name to stand out, you really have to think outside the box and offer up marketing thats quirky and remarkable enough to st...

Frazer Jones
|Feb 23|magazine6 min read

These days, if you want your name to stand out, you really have to think outside the box and offer up marketing that’s quirky and remarkable enough to start a conversation. Realizing that tomato juice itself isn’t much of a conversation starter on its own, Japanese ketchup and vegetable processor Kagome Co Ltd is catching the public’s attention with the launch of a helpful robot: Tomatan.

Created as collaborative effort between Kagome and Japanese art studio Maywa Denki, Tomatan serves an allegedly vital purpose, sitting atop the shoulders of athletes and busy people on the go and dispensing nourishing tomatoes:

According to Kagome, which claims to be Japan's largest supplier of tomato juice and tomato ketchup, people running the Tokyo marathon really need this. "Tomatoes have lots of nutrition that combats fatigue," Kagome employee Shigenori Suzuki told Deccan Chronicle.


Kagome is going even further by bringing Tomatan’s uses into the real world with two upcoming races. Aforementioned Kagome employee Shigenori Suzuki announced plans to bring Tomatan and his life-giving tomato powers on a 5K run on Feb 21, with another runner taking a condensed version called Petit-Tomatan on the Tokyo Marathon Feb 22.

Is it weird? Sure. But it’s not without precedent. Rather, Tomatan is a fine eye-catching and topical entry in the spirit of Japan’s longstanding tradition of chindogu—a distinct genre of ingenious inventions that successfully solve a particular problem, yet are so impractical or social embarrassing that they are rendered simultaneously useful and useless.  

Tomatan certainly provides hungry runners with the tomato-based nutrition they need to get through a grueling race. On the other hand, Tomatan also provides those runners with an extra 8 kilograms (18 pounds) of mechanical tomato robot weight—even the smaller Petit-Tomatan adds an extra 3 kilograms, which is still a somewhat significant amount of extra weight to bear. Then of course there’s the whole social embarrassment issue of running with a hulking tomato robot perched on your shoulders or peeking out of a backpack.

Would it be worth it for the average marathon runner? In true chindogu fashion: probably not. But it sure has people talking, and that’s the important thing.

Check out Tomatan in action: