Sexy Feast: Flapjack Off: What a Pancake Machine Teaches Us About Sex

At Lakedale Resort on San Juan Island, and closer to home at the Alaska Airlines Board Room of Sea-Tac Airport, there’s a pretty magical pancake machine. I haven’t been a frequent flyer with Alaska because of the company’s evangelical ways (they did stop distributing meal tray prayer cards about this time a year ago, though that may be more about food cutbacks than religion cutbacks), but I did enjoy a fabulous overnight stay at Lakedale last summer–and woke up to the pancake machine in the morning.

These pancakes are crowd-pleasers, partly because of the mystery of the process. ChefStack is the name, though I’m not seeing any sign of the business still being alive, with the last Tweet in November 2010 and the last Facebook post even earlier. But the machines themselves still seem to be going strong. And they’re popular not only with the many kids you might see at Lakedale Resort, but also the adults in the airport lounge, many of whom marvel that the machine can put out about 200 pancakes in an hour, which is one pancake every 18 seconds.

So what does the ChefStack pancake machine teach us about sex?

It’s all about automation for simulation and stimulation.

You don’t really need a machine to make a pancake. They’re a simple delicacy, which makes the machine look like a costly gimmick. But when you don’t have someone with you to provide pancake pleasure, or you don’t feel like doing it yourself, ChefStack is convenient, robotic fun. Just pour in the batter, select your settings, and go. As ChefStack’s promotional video notes, the process is “Fast, Hot & Fresh” with “Limitless Possibilities,” and you end up “Satisfied.”

The same can be said for the HEPS Fantastic, a new sex toy for boys. This masturbation tool from Korea (HEPS stands for Human Exciting Perfect Sense), which looks like some sort of high-tech electrical device, opens to be basically a silicone mouth (complete with lips, tongue, teeth, and more) inside a hard plastic shell, with some bells and whistles to make it an intriguing “oral simulation system.” You just pour in some lube, select your settings, and go to town. Like the ChefStack pancake machine, you can say that the HEPS Fantastic is “Fast, Hot & Fresh” with “Limitless Possibilities,” and you end up “Satisfied.”

HEPS Fantastic has interesting promotional notes of its own, which you can find at the producer’s website. (To purchase, you’ll get referred to ToyDemon. Note, though, that while the product manual’s headlines are in English, the rest of the text is Japanese!) Some are not so sex-positive in their message, like “Semen tastes bad,” and “85% of women feels disgust having oral sex…Now you need not study her face anymore.” Still, it’s good that orgasm is the goal, with the mouth designed to feel like that of a real sexual partner. Quite prominent in all the literature is a slogan that reads “HEPS rival is human.”

But is HEPS Fantastic really a “rival” to human touch? I don’t think so. Ultimately, most of us crave real love and companionship. That said, the little machine does feel pretty fantastic. In fact, it’s one of the better sex toys for men on the market. When you’re on your own at home or on the road, HEPS Fantastic can lend a helping hand in feeling fabulous pleasure. Just like ChefStack’s pancakes. They’re not the most orgasmic–not as evenly browned and light and fluffy and buttery as my mom’s pancakes were–but in the absence of a pancake partner, they come close. For pancakes and sex, it’s good to know there are machines out there in which automation enables simulation and stimulation. So go on: batter up and flapjack-off.

First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on January 10, 2013.

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