Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Milk pills

or more correctly non-dairy creamer capsules
  (+12, -1)(+12, -1)
(+12, -1)
  [vote for,

Storing small quantities of milk for occasional use in hot drinks like tea and coffee is a problem, to date only imperfectly solved.

One can use milk powder - or non-dairy creamer in powdered form, but these tend not to dissolve completely, add an undesirable flavour and/or provide suboptimal levels of milkiness. I suspect that this is down to the emulsion nature of real milk - a powder form can't maintain this structure, so any effects it has on appearance, texture and flavour have to be emulated with other properties.

One can use individual milk cartons or sachets, but these are a wasteful form of packaging, and present a risk of mess on opening.

What is needed is a form which overcomes all these issues. I propose the 'milk pill'. These are a portion of concentrated (liquid) creamer contained in a capsule. To use one would simply drop one, two or three pills (according to taste) into the beverage, and stir as normal. The capsule dissolves and melts, and the emulsified creamer is efficiently released into the drink.

There should therefore be no issues with solid to liquid transition, and packaging can be minimised (dependent on application - in 'serve yourself' contexts a wrapper may be desirable).

Loris, May 28 2010

Perfect Capsule http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Fruit_Gushers
with a thin enough wall... it would melt [metarinka, May 28 2010]

Possibly Redundant? Flavor_20Beans
Note the last sentence. [goldbb, Jun 03 2010]

Milk Sticks http://www.caterers...-from-Dairystix.htm
Small packets of milk. The UHT-filled ones have a 4 month shelf life. Okay, so the packet is torn open rather than dissolved... [prufrax, Jun 03 2010]

WikiPearls - liquid foods contained in edible packaging http://www.wikipearl.com/
now available : icecream. coming soon : yoghurt, coffee... Not quite the same as this, but apparently the founder had the idea in 2010 (a coincidence I'm sure) [Loris, Dec 11 2013]


       you confused me - a pill is a compressed powder. a capsule has a liquid or powder in a gelatinous case. hows about a gummy bear type sweet with the milk inside so you get your sweetener as well?
po, May 28 2010

       [+] What are the capsules made of?
pocmloc, May 28 2010

       I quite like the idea of a drowning gummy bear with one arm raised in a last wave.
po, May 28 2010

       How will you make a capsule which dissolves quickly in hottish (?320K?) coffee but is not dissolved by the coolish (? 290K?) milk inside it during the weeks of pre-use storage?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 28 2010

       Cream'n'sugar cubes.   

       //What are the capsules made of?//   

       //How will you make a capsule which dissolves quickly in hottish (?320K?) coffee but is not dissolved by the coolish (? 290K?) milk inside it during the weeks of pre-use storage?//   

       Good questions. Medical and food-supplement capsules have a coating like how I envisage, and they're made of gelatin or carrageen. The latter is probably better.   

       I think you've got a value wrong Max; 320K is rather cold for coffee. Perhaps 350K? (~=80 degrees C).
In any case, that's one for the materials specialists to develop. There are many soft capsules on the market which melt in the mouth to release their liquid centre, so I don't think that it's an unsolvable problem.
Notice that I said 'concentrated creamer' rather than milk. Partly because it seems to me that smaller would be better, but also so that the contents can be optimised for creaminess, emulsion maintenance, flavour, storage time and not-dissolving-the-capsule ability.

       po: yes I know (see the tag-line), but that's what they'd be universally called because it sounds right.
Loris, May 28 2010

       milk icecubes.   

       [ ] it's either WIBNI or you're just planning on putting milk in gelatin capsules which I don't imagine would taste good.
FlyingToaster, May 28 2010


       Milk icecubes has already been suggested. I found it when searching for prior art - it even ended up being the idea directly above this one in the section list. I think my proposal is quite different in concept and functionality though, otherwise I wouldn't have posted it. If you think not, then you should probably consider whether a freezer would be a solution for those places where refrigerating milk is not.   

       Why don't you just go around labeling every idea on the bakery WIBNI? You can be a complement to how 21 Quest says 'baked', without actually reading the idea.
Loris, May 28 2010

       // milk in gelatin capsules which I don't imagine would taste good// Actually, I think it would taste fine. Pure gelatin is pretty close to tasteless. Still not sure how to make it stay undissolved but, as pointed out, there must be a way.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 28 2010

       You can't decide in the post whether you mean pills (compressed powder but you've said that milk powder tastes bad) or capsules (encapsulated liquid presumably), and you haven't bothered to say what the main idea is actually made of... what substance that doesn't have a taste are you using for your capsules of evaporated milk/cream ?   

       So, here's the conversation we're having:   

       [L]: hey I just thought up a great idea: put milk or cream into dissolveable spheres   

       [FT]: wow, that *is* a good idea... what are the spheres made out of ?   

       [L] umm...   

       [FT]: Wouldn't It Be Nice If there was a tasteless substance that wouldn't dissolve in milk but would dissolve in hot water ?   

       [L] Pffft.   

       I wouldn't go dissing neutral votes if I was you.   

       (note: this anno was edited at the same time as the next anno was being written... bit of "Doh" HB time travel, and I can't remember what I originally wrote)
FlyingToaster, May 28 2010

       I can decide - you can see this if you read the tagline.
I also explained (very clearly, I think) in the idea body what I'm proposing. Furthermore, I responded to po's prior comment with an explanation of why I settled on the idea title. If that's not enough for you here's a more verbose description:
Whatever is in these items, their purpose is to replace milk. 'Liquid non-dairy creamer' is too much to say; noone will call them that. Although more correctly known as capsules, there's a bit of leeway given the existance of solids in capsule form, spansules and similar.
Just as foaming cream in a can is near-universally known as 'squirty cream' - with no prompting, the term just arose everywhere - this product would become known as 'milk pills'.

       At least, I imagine so.
Loris, May 28 2010

       are we talking about compressing coffee-whitener into cubes ? I'd plus that, but it's a crappy substitute for cream, and no substitute for milk in tea. [edit: "it's" = coffee whitener]
FlyingToaster, May 28 2010

       I'm not dissing the vote, I'm dissing your failure to read, and to think (in this instance). Maybe it costs me your negative vote. But hey, if you're going to say "it's either WIBNI or you're just planning on putting milk in gelatin capsules...", I'm not going to let that go since it contains two inaccuracies in the one sentence.   

       All ideas are in some form "Wouldn't it be nice if..."[1]. That doesn't make them WIBNI by the standards of the halfbakery - you should review the help file if you disagree.   

       And of course I explicitly describe using non-dairy creamer rather than milk.
(Since I aim to be scrupulously fair, please note that I intend to add the word 'emulsified' to the idea in the use-case. The idea of it being an emulsion is implicit in the next paragraph, but it could be clearer.)

       [1] Exception: "Wouldn't it be evil to..."
Loris, May 28 2010

       //are we talking about compressing coffee-whitener into cubes ?//   

       No, we're not. I've modified the description slightly to hopefully make it clearer. I always meant it to be a liquid (emulsion) centre. Might tweak it again, hang on...
Loris, May 28 2010

       I think milk/cream vs. non-dairy is a bit non-sequitur; my objection is to the use of a magic, non-toxic, tasteless substance that won't dissolve in whatever cargo you have in mind, but will dissolve in >40C water, said substance being a more than trivial part of the whole idea (which I rather like). It's like the perennial "LTA Vacuum Sphere" idea: fantastic except there's no known substance that will enable it.   

       OTOH If you have a substance that you can separate out the solids from the liquids and it won't dissolve back in, then use the solids to encapsulate the liquids, nifty... what is it ?
FlyingToaster, May 28 2010

Well as I said before, I don't see the capsule as being even a difficult problem for the food technologists, since similar items already exist, in the form of gelatin vitamin/food supplement capsules with liquid centres.
Why the liquid in those doesn't dissolve the outside I don't know; maybe it's already saturated.

       Also, I'd quite like it *not* to be actual gelatin since then I wouldn't be able to use them.
Loris, May 28 2010

       You could use any polymer that has a melting point some temperature above room and isn't soluble in milk.   

       Certain kinds of waxes come to mind, in fact cannery wax would probably work just fine (can't comment on taste). with a wall as thin as a gel cap it wouldn't take a lot to melt.   

       lipids (fats) would work. there's probably some type of refined fat that is relatively tastestless and stable at room temperature.   

       you could also use sugars (think of fruit roll-ups or gushers) (which might taste good to boot) although I'm not so sure about their solubility in milk, it might be possible to prime the inside of the capsule to prevent the milk from dissolving it.   

       *Edit* I've got it! you could use a pectin product. Pectin is a stabilizer and gellatin substitue used all the time in jams and jellies, with the right combination it could create a capsule that would be stable at room temperature, melt in hot coffee and either have minimal taste or be mixed with simple sugars. It's used to make fruit snacks like "fruit roll-ups" and gushers.   

       If you use evaporated milk it would have a relatively long shelf life.
metarinka, May 28 2010

       This seems like a lot of trouble to go to simply to make one's butler's life a little easier.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 29 2010

       I want something closer to a ball. Milk balls. The pill will have too high of a gelatin/milk ratio per volume, so the final drink will be all gelatinous. A single milk ball provides the same amt. of milk as, say, three milk pills with a fraction of the coating material.   

       I think the wording of the idea is somewhat WIBNI. You could have easily outlined the lipid/gelatin/polymer route and avoided all the trouble from folks like, FT, perhaps. I dunno, making capsules is pretty easy so why bother explaining it all.   

       I remember a microencapsulation engineer telling me that the hardest thing to encapsulate was alcohol. Thought that was kinda funny.
daseva, May 30 2010

       //hardest thing to encapsulate was alcohol// a pint is pretty big to encapsulate.
po, May 30 2010

       dunno: I haven't run across anything, in my admittedly limited exposure, that would work without tasting funny. Gotta wonder why there isn't compressed coffee-whitener cubes though: using a teaspoon to dig that stuff out is an insult to the teaspoon (but when you run out of cream or are a couple hundred miles away from the convenience store...).
FlyingToaster, May 30 2010

       //couple of hundred miles from a convenience store// seems like an oxymoron.
po, May 30 2010

       If you don't put cream in your cooler then you have room for more beer. okay I'm off by an order of magnitude: never been more than 10-20 miles away from a store (or storelike substitute) while camping.
FlyingToaster, May 30 2010

       //You could have easily outlined the lipid/gelatin/polymer route//   

       But I *did*.   

       The main issue is that I can't specify what things are made of exactly because I don't know, not having fully baked the idea. I don't think its desirable or necessary to over-specify in any case.
Loris, May 30 2010

       oh for goodness sake.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 30 2010

       I'll assume it's "coffee whitener cubes" which is a working solution to your idea polynomial [+]
FlyingToaster, May 30 2010

       FT, it's not that. The whole second paragraph explains that powder is undesirable and the next to last paragraph is the idea. You need to factor all your variables before simplifying!   

       I don't think saying 'capsule' is exact enough, Loris. This is just my humble opinion. You can make all sorts of capsules that simply won't work, so the issue isn't as moot as you put it. I love the idea by the way, I see it becoming a reality in some form or another.   

       It's like saying "Ok, this is an idea to travel to other stars. We shall use.... a spacecraft! .... what's the vessel made out of? Well now, that's up to the vessel people!". ... pretty sure that idea would get deleted WIBNI, magic, no idea, etc.
daseva, May 30 2010

       ...and so the Great Ship set sail across the vastness of space on a journey which would take longer than the lifetimes of many stars. It's makers, however, had time. Time, and infinite patience.   

       The Anoos had spent a million years and drained the energy of a thousand stars to travel their own galaxy in search of the one thing that they loved the most - intelligence. Some planets had held the spark of life, others blazed with things too strange and numerous to describe. Yet nowhere, nowhere on the 200 billion planets orbiting 50 billion stars had they found creatures that could think in anything but a rudimentary and brutal way.   

       And so they had built the Great Ship, small by planetary standards but vast compared to even their greatest cities. The Great Ship had inched, over the millenia, past the lifeless planets and dying suns of their own galaxy, reaching near-light speed as it edged into intergalactic space.   

       Within the Great Ship, civilisations rose and fell, cities were built and then decayed into ruins, generations passed and even the sloth hand of evolution made itself felt, until the Anoos scarcely resembled the compatriots they had left behind.   

       For a million years, they had passed no stars, no comets, scarcely even a mote of dust in the dreadful intergalactic void.   

       But they were patient.   

       After a time beyond even their conception, the scintilla of light became a smudge, became a cloud, became a swarm until, at last, they crept into the very edges of the Milky Way. Each rotation of the Great Ship now brought them a day peppered with a million million stars, whose colours shifted century by century as the ship decelerated.   

       One point of light, an unremarkable yellow star in one of the outer spiral arms, began to glow brighter year by year as the Great Ship, guided now by creatures far evolved from those who had started the quest, crept towards it target at speeds in the millions, and then mere thousands of kilometers per minute.   

       If the calculations and predictions of the generations who had created the Great Ship were correct, it was here that they would find life with an intelligence which was at least recognisable.   

       And then, after an impossible eternity that would corrode the soul of any sane person, the blue-green jewel of Earth lay before them, suspended improbably like a topaz in the star-salted velvet of space.   

       Calmly, efficiently, but without ceremony or fuss, they activated the receiver bank and the vast array of computers which would scan the planet. In a few moments, they would know whether their journey had been in vain.   

       It took several microseconds for the computers to assess the garble of radio-frequency noise belching into space, and then to look beneath this for the quiet whisper of signals that leaked from a million cables. It took almost a millisecond while the computer mastered all of the languages of Earth, and developed enough understanding of the culture to make sense of what it heard.   

       As had been programmed aeons ago, the computer searched for one signal which gave a nutshell representation of the intelligence of life on the planet. Without fuss and without wasting any uneccessary electrons, it displayed its findings on the screen at the very centre of the Great Ship. The screen itself was some few hundred kilometers across, and the Ship's entire population had gathered on the plains around it in anticipation. As the text unwound across the screen, four hundred million eyes followed every character.   

       "it's either WIBNI or you're just planning on putting milk in gelatin capsules"....."Why don't you just go around labeling every idea on the bakery WIBNI?"....."whether you mean pills (compressed powder but you've said"......." this product would become known as 'milk pills'."   

       Slowly, the Great Ship began a 180 degree rotation.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 30 2010

       Suddenly the Great Ship exploded!
rcarty, May 30 2010

       I've been starting and cancelling comments to this thread all day.   

       Perhaps my mistake was assuming that the capsule was so easy to create, with similar examples widely known to exist, that it didn't really need much explanation - when to some it's apparently pretty much a magic impossibility.   

       Also as daseva describes, you do have to read the whole idea to follow the logic. I accept that it was originally only implicit that I was specifying a liquid creamer. However I claim that (even before I tweaked the penultimate paragraph) what I meant was pretty clear to anyone willing to read it through.   

       I did at least describe the format fairly specifically in my first annotation.   

       While it would be possible to document ideas to a detail level which would satisfy a patent official, the down-sides are ridiculously long idea postings, and the removal of all fun. Now, everyone has a different idea about where the balance lies, but if five short paragraphs is too much, adding more text isn't going to help, is it?
Posting quick, whimsical ideas and discussing random shit in the comments - sure, love it.
Research practical ideas to a depth that they can be produced, then instead posting a detailed how-to for competitors... why would I do that? *Come on* - think what's reasonable for the forum!

       Regarding the wrapper:
//... negates the idea. ...//

       Ah, but it doesn't, because a greased paper, cellophane, foil or other acceptable wrapper can be much lower in terms of embodied energy and material than the plastic and foil rigid containers which people currently rip open and mispour over themselves.
Anywhere which has an open sugar-bowl needn't have a wrapper; I just mentioned it for the establishments with a paranoia over the legal liabilities of open/customer-accessible ingredients.

       Incidentally this conversation also frightened off not one but two malevolant alien cultures, so that's okay.
Loris, May 31 2010

       What if milk powder was put inside the tea bag so that only the dissolved, non-lumpy stuff got out into your cup?
tom1, Jun 05 2010

       Ah yes, but what it it wasn't? Eh?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 05 2010

       Haha... but you so did disable it, didn't you.
daseva, Jun 06 2010

       //I didn't say shit.//
No you didn't, well done. Can you keep it up?

       //Are you talking about Reddi-Whip? Other than immature teenagers with dirty minds, who the fuck calls spray-on Cool Whip "squirty cream"!? That kind of talk can get you kicked out of the military on this side of the Pond. I ran a Google search on the term, and the first hit was a link to an explicit video that my browser's family filter wouldn't allow me to open until I disabled it.//   

       Ah yes, I forgot Americans tend to call things by the trade-mark much more. I've not seen either reddi-whip or cool whip here, but a similar product is called Anchor whipped cream. So the answer is technically no, but practically yes.
When you watched the video, did it involve an aerosol-delivered whipped cream product?

       Plus, you forgot to say spuriously say 'baked'.
Loris, Jun 06 2010

       Tell me more about Bing.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 06 2010


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