One seismic shift in food service the last 12 months is the industry’s about-face on plastic straws, a product that’s become anathema in stunning time. Under the convention’s exhibitor guide, I counted 33 companies in the “sipping straws” category at the show. Without stopping at all 33 I can’t say they’re all offering a compostable alternative, but many I visited were. One of the more intriguing offerings was from a San Francisco start-up called HAY! Straws, which proposes plastic straws are bad for the environment, paper straws get soggy, metal straws are expensive. Their solution is to create a straw made from straw, that is, from biodegradable wheat stems.

Image for article titled The delicious meatless future is now, and other finds from the 2019 National Restaurant Show
Photo: Kevin Pang

I’ve been sipping drinks all weekend from samples I received, and gotta say, they feel tactilely satisfying, with the jumbo straws (pictured above) sturdy as bamboo straws I’ve come across. That said, you can also subtly taste the wheat, even if the company says it soaks and triple-washes the straws in sterilized water. Nevertheless, this is the type of product that you’d expect to show up on Shark Tank.