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On everyone's lips.

Berliner Zeitung01.02.2002

The dented invention

No more spilling while eating one’s soup. An advertising expert from Osnabrück has invented a sloped plate.

Berlin, 31 January. Meal could have been nice. Claus Roeting had stayed with friends at the corner Italian, a good restaurant in which he had already been several times. Roeting ordered minestrone. He was eating and the plate was almost empty. Roeting tilted the plate to finish the last remains of soup that were left on the plate. Then it happened: he spilled the soup on the tablecloth.

“Naturally, it bothered me,” Roeting says. For him it was unpleasant, one never wants to get dirty at a noble restaurant. However, the fact that he had spilled the soup had its positive side, because just in that moment he came up with a brilliant idea: the idea of the sloped plate. “Well, well. See what you can do!”

What if the plate was tilted?, he thought to himself. I would not need to incline the plate, because the soup would run down into a corner. “But the idea seemed silly to me,” Roeting tells. So he kept it to himself. Two weeks later, Roeting broke his silence and spoke with the Italian owner about his weird idea. 

He was excited about it and Roeting went shopping. He bought a porcelain plate and a little bit of play dough. Then, the 34-years-old business man and manager of an advertising company in Osnabrück, returned to his office. He closed the door (“no one had to see me”) and worked with play dough for one hour. Finally, the deepest point of the plate was no longer in the centre but on the side. The plate was inclined and had a small dent. Roeting filled it with water and then the water which ran to the hollow. Roeting opened the room again and showed the plate to his colleagues.

And what happened then? “One thought it was a great idea,” Roeting says. The other laughed “Yes, yes,” he said, “See what you can do!” But Roeting still had doubts, would it be nonsense? Even so, he went to the patent office and registered the plate. He talked to two companies in order to ask whether they could produce two prototypes of his plate. One was a Chinese company that declined the offer and the other was a company from Weiden in Bavaria that committed to do it. They produced two sloped plates, as Roeting wanted. “When the plate is full or empty nobody notice,” Roeting says. “Only if a quarter of the plate is filled the slope can be seen. This is the highlight.” Due to the fact that this plate is something exceptional, Roeting wants to make the plate rare first and produce only a few copies. “When something is scarce, people think more about it,” Roeting says. “For instance, gourmets as Alfred Biolek should keep it in mind.” The price is, certainly, for gourmets as well: 20 Euros each item. In summer the plate will reach the stores. 

Until then, the prototypes can be improved; the slope will be steeper. “Actually, the prototypes already work quite well,” Roeting says. He should truly know it; after all he is who has the prototypes at home. He eats soup frequently, now of course with the new plate. While eating, he is not less proud, because for the time being he is the only person to own the plate. And what will happen when someday everyone owns it? When the plate is cheaper and becomes a mass-produced product? Has Roeting then created a revolution, a food culture revolution? “I do not want a revolution, neither to invent a new eating culture,” he says. He prefers to make money with it. However, he still needs a creative name for the “dented” invention. “Deller”, someone proposed, a mixture of “Deller” (“Delle” = eng. “dent”) and “Teller” (“Teller” = eng. “plate”). Roeting also thinks about "Pisa": leaning tower, leaning plate. Maybe this creation will be named in a totally different way at the end. In any case, Roeting is convinced of his inclined plate. “Of course, this is quite funny,” he says excited. “I do not think that it can go wrong”…

Good idea, good business

The sloped plate shall become a big business for Claus Roeting. He has already written to several soup manufacturers and the reactions have been positive. Roeting thinks about collaborating with one of these soup manufacturers. The manufacturer would buy many of these sloped plates and could sell them, for example, with a pack of five instant soups as an advertising supplement. In return, the plate would be named after the firm. “The best would be when in ten years my children will not say soup plate, but Knorr plate.”

Andreas Lesch

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