Welcome to Inside The Stoves by Jason Kessler. Each week Kessler will look deep within the soul of food media and come out with fake excerpts from fake books that are absolutely, positively not real. Basically, it's foodie fan fiction.
Nobody who has ever seen Waylynn Lucas would confuse her for a defense contractor. Her trademark thick-rimmed glasses and baking sheet-toned arms are more at home in a Santa Monica yoga studio than the serious hallways of the Pentagon. That’s actually why she was the perfect person to win the top prize for the Pentagon’s Troop Sustenance Program. While Northrop Grumman, Halliburton, and the Vinnell Corporation all fought to create the perfect portable energy bar, Waylynn invented something much more desirable: a doughnut that wasn’t fried, but tasted just as good as the real thing.
The Troop Sustenance Program (TSP) was open to all Americans. It was designed to satisfy troop concerns that their MREs (meals ready to eat) were repetitive and boring and on-the-go sustenance was nearly non-existent outside of 5-Hour Energy bottles. A bored soldier is a liability in combat and liabilities lead to dire consequences on the battlefield. That’s why the TSP was introduced as a way to reinvigorate the troops both mentally and physically. Whoever won the prize would be taking on a multi-million dollar contract.
Waylynn heard about the contest through a message board she constantly visits that focuses on military conspiracies. It’s been a hobby of hers since she first decided the Korean War was staged in Burbank. While the other conspiracy theorists cooked up tales of the government trying to poison soldiers with the contest, Waylynn got to work cooking up something entirely different: her entry.
She started out trying to replicate something like Willy Wonka’s three-course meal gum. She wanted to impart a whole meal’s worth of flavor into a fruit roll-up. Extremely portable and impervious to heat, Waylynn’s fruit leather (code name: SheetMeals) failed because they tasted terrible. The various flavors of the meal ended up combining in the worst way, so early samplers said they tasted marshmallow, carrots, chocolate, and chicken all at once. SheetMeals were quickly abandoned.
After four more attempts, she finally landed on a concept that worked. Baked doughnuts that suffered no flavor loss. She called them f?nuts and they were the perfect answer to the soldiers’ problems. The Pentagon went crazy for them and awarded her the contract instantly. To keep her cover, they also bankrolled a shop in the middle of LA. Now, Waylynn Lucas is making hundreds of thousands of f?nuts for the troops every single day. Unfortunately, that’s also the reason why f?nuts’ retail location is perpetually sold out.
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— Jason Kessler