If you consider the taco shell to be among the greatest inventions in human history, you're going to love Yum! Brands' (NYSE:YUM) subsidiary KFC's newest invention.
Straight from the Department of What Took You So Long, the fast food chain is introducing an edible coffee cup at some of its U.K. locations later this year.
The cup, which KFC has begun calling a "Scoffee" Cup, will be made out of cookie wrapped in sugar and lined with heat-resistant white chocolate. A creation of a group of food scientists at the Robin Collective, which has invented other such novelty foods as medicinal marshmallows and liquid nitrogen ice cream, the cup will be infused with ambient aromas such as coconut sun cream, fresh cut grass, and wildflowers. The group explained that the scents have the natural ability to evoke positive memories and make people smile.
KFC is introducing the edible cup in tandem with the U.K. launch of Seattle's Best Coffee, a Starbucks brand.
Reaction on social media ranged from delight -- as one local news anchor cooed, "This makes me so happy. ... I just wonder why no one has thought of it before! EDIBLE COFFEE CUP!!!" -- to bewilderment -- "Because when I think fried chicken, I think an edible coffee cookie cup that smells like grass," from a Mashable writer -- to embarrassment -- "Dear UK, I'm really really sorry," from a writer at Vivendi.
The concept of the edible coffee cup isn't actually new. Italian coffee company Lavazza has offered edible cookie cups, while Coolhaus packages edible sandwiches in an edible potato starch wrapper printed with vegetable-based ink. KFC's innovation seems to be the first mass-market distribution of such a product, however.
Not your grandma's KFC
It made seem weird for KFC, out of all the fast food chains out there, to offer an edible coffee cup. After all, this seems like a product more suitable for a chain like Dunkin' Donuts, the schlocky, working man's answer to Starbucks. KFC, on the other hand, is known for chicken, not coffee -- but the chain has evolved over the years.
The abbreviation for Kentucky Fried Chicken became the official name for the chain in 1991 as the company wanted to drop "Fried" from its name to sound healthier. In 2004 it even launched a "Kitchen Fresh Chicken" ad campaign, though that didn't stick. KFC has been closing locations in the U.S. in recent years, and has focused instead on China, where the brand offers such un-Colonel-Sanders-like menu items as bacon mushroom chicken rice, curry pork chop rice, and teriyaki chicken rice.
This is also not the first time that KFC's parent, Yum! Brands, has shown off its inventiveness as it's rolled out items at other major chains including the Doritos Locos Taco at Taco Bell and the "subconscious menu" at Pizza Hut. With other unique items on the menu around the world, KFC has become a chameleon.
There's no word on whether these cups will eventually make it to the U.S., but if the U.K. test is successful, a stateside introduction would seem to be a natural next step.
Not just tasty-but environmental, too
Though the calorie-packed container is unlikely to appeal to everyone, there is one hidden benefit that most should approve. The edible nature of the cup means that there is no waste from it, a feature that is becoming more and more important to consumers, especially millennials, who are concerned about sustainability.
Going green may not have been in Colonel Sanders' vocabulary, but if the cup proves to be popular, don't be surprised to see the idea spread to other chains, such as Seattle's Best parent Starbucks, which regularly touts that it tracks its commitment to reducing waste.
For now though, you'll have to hop across the pond if you want to eat your cup, and recycle it, too.
Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.