Feb. 6, 2098
MINNEAPOLIS, MN–Monsanto Mills today announced that its recently introduced Human Jerky(TM) has surpassed the company’s most ambitious sales projections. “We were able to communicate well with the consumer on this one,” notes marketing VP Wilmer Pret. “It’s a tasty, uniquely nutritious snack food with a modern, avant cachet that others can’t match.”
Monsanto first introduced Human Jerky(TM) six months ago in a few bleeding-edge urban markets that research suggested would be the most likely to adopt the snack as a form of taboo-breaking cultural statement. As seems to have been the case quite often recently, demographic projections missed the mark. Within weeks of its introduction, news of the vacuum-packed snack reached the American mid-west, despite an advertising campaign narrowly focused on costal urban centers. “The demand was overwhelming,” exclaims Pret. “Our servers were flooded with inquiries, people wanting to know when they could buy HumJerk in their local markets. Just to keep the buzz going we sent out literally millions of free samples to customers making the most enthusiastic requests.”
Human Jerky(TM) was conceived to test the consumer market for re-purposed medical technologies that had exhausted their product-cycle in medical markets. Originally developed to grow integrated tissue-and-muscle grafts, and marketed under the name FleshGeneraTor, the technology behind Human Jerky(TM) grows human flesh on a bio-degradable protein-mesh substrate, in a bath of growth-catalyzing enzymes. Sheets of flesh are then jerked in large dehydrators. Some of the more exotic, smoked flavors, including Hickory, and Applewood, are express-smoked under pressure in a controlled combustion smoke chamber.
Monsanto promotional materials tout the nutritional value of Human Jerky(TM), pointing out that human flesh, of all possible sources of natural proteins, supplies the proteins and nutrients most needed by the body. “What better source of the nutrition you need than healthy, carefully-grown human flesh?” asks a popular Monsanto banner.
Medical experts disagree about the nutritional advisability of eating Human Jerky(TM), and FDA officials are keeping a close eye on the claims Monsanto makes publicly about the snack’s nutritional completeness. More than misconceptions about its nutritional value, experts worry about the possibility of the spread of prions. CDC Director of Food Vectors Anton Spright cautions that “public safety depends upon [Monsanto’s] ability to maintain sufficient genetic diversity in its stock. If the line from which they’re working becomes too narrow and degraded, the possibility of prion contamination multiplies exponentially.”
Monsanto is responding to worries like those aired by the CDC by marketing a new, genetically-customized version of the product. “We were always very careful about the diversity of our stock. We routinely replenished the line with grafts from a cross-section of world populations. But, now, we’re going one step further. Next week we’ll start offering My Jerky(TM): Human Jerky(TM) made from flesh grown matching the genetic profile of individual consumers. People can send us in a drop of their blood on a convenient hemo-absorbent card, and, within two weeks, we’ll be able to send them Jerky of their own flesh.”
Some worry, though, about the impact of the everyday violation of one of the oldest and most widespread of cultural taboos. “This may be another case of technology defining what should be done by defining what can be done,” cautions MIT Professor Kermit Jays. “The fact that it is technologically possible to cannibalize human flesh without killing people does not necessarily mean that the taboo should be discarded. Culture is more complex than that. It may be generations before the consequences symptomize themselves in social dysfunctions.”