A product designer’s three-year study of sausages led to this—the sausage of the future

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Swiss product designer Carolien Niebling was not a sausage fan, at least not until she spent three years tasting 50 to 70 different types of sausages from all over the world. She took everything she learned to create what she calls “the future sausage.”

Among her futuristic sausage collection, you can find the fruit salami, a dried sausage made of berries, dates and almonds. Or there’s insect pâté, a sausage made with insect flour and a tonka-bean infusion. She dips it in beeswax to prevent it from discoloring and to extend its shelf-life.  You can see more of her creations in the video above. 

Some of the “future sausages” Carolien Niebling created
Some of the “future sausages” Carolien Niebling created
Image: ECAL/Noortje Knulst

Niebling’s goal is not only to create new types of sausages with less meat in them, but also to use her designs as a message to encourage people to expand their palates.

She believes the rise of supermarkets has distanced people from the natural production of food. As a result, the only food many consider “edible” is the food they see on a supermarket shelf.

“We don’t dare to pick up a flower from the field and just put it in our mouth. You think there’s something wrong with it,” said Niebling. “I want to transform ourselves from Eximius forni-vore (supermarket-eater) back to Omni-vore (all-eater).” (She made up that word for supermarket-eater.)

Though Niebling used substitutes to reduce the meat content of her future sausages, she says she’s not interested in using vegetables to mimic the taste of meat. On the contrary, she hates the idea of faking meat.

“If you start making fake chicken, you’re not really sending a message that we need to reduce the amount of chicken we eat. It is bad because the message is not clear,” said Niebling. “What I’m trying to say with my design is that changing your diet doesn’t have to be, ‘instead of meat, you eat carrots.’ There’s so much else out there. There are hundreds of different grains, there are so many plants and flowers that we haven’t fully explored yet.”

Niebling hasn’t always been this adventurous. She didn’t start exploring some challenging cuisines till she embarked on this sausage journey.

“I’d never tasted insects because I thought the idea was horrible. I was actually shaking when I ate my first extremely dehydrated ant leg. I ordered that from Thailand because I thought, ‘I can’t start this project without trying this myself.'”

Niebling has become something of an expert on sausages as a result of this project. “I bought every sausage book I could find.” Niebling told Quartz. She studied how different climates resulted in different methods of making sausages. She also looked into the history of sausages and and even found some disturbing myths. One of them involves an ancient recipe, which is said to date back thousands of years: a sausage made of brains, wolf milk, eggs, and bread crumbs. “As far as I could find, they’re actually talking about human brains. It’s a myth. Must be strange.” said Niebling.