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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Brain Food Provides Food For Thought

Product: Brain Food moldable putty (available in seven colors)

Price: $9.99

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stepping stones

My expectations:

1. Should be easy to use

2. Should be fun to play with

3. Should inspire creative ideas or exploration

4. Should be durable

5. Results should be as advertised on website.

6. Customer service should be excellent.


Upon receipt of this product, it might be obvious to some that it would mainly be targeted towards children. However, I wanted to base my review on how an adult might find this product to be useful and beneficial to their creativity. So that will be my point of view for the remainder of this review.

But what is Brain Food anyway? To quote the website "Putty for your hands... a playground for your mind. Engaging the imagination and refreshing the mind. Brain Food is an impressive dose of high quality moldable putty. It is safe for use by people with sensitivity to wheat or latex and will not promote the development of latex allergies."

Brain Food was similar to a putty I had seen someone use for physical therapy exercises, to restore the motor skills and strength to their hand. It comes in a round, flat container. I thought perhaps it might be in a shape of a brain, but it wasn't. When I opened the container, the putty was glittery blue with silvery, pearly streaks through it (I had the brain stem blue color). It has the texture and feel of putty, without the moisture or crumbling associated with clay. It was sticky enough to stay stuck to my hand when I turned my hand upside down, but not so sticky that it left a residue on my hand. It was smooth and smelled rubbery, but only up close.

As soon as I saw it, I knew what I was going to use it for: relaxation techniques and brainstorming.

As I kneaded the Brain Food in my hands, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. It was a little tough to work with at first, like taffy, but it loosened up the more I kneaded it. It reminded me very much of meditation, the process of ruminating over something. It was a great help in just mulling over ideas or thinking about solutions to creative challenges. It also reminded me of kneading bread or giving a massage to tired hands.

I thought to myself, "But how is this any different than playing with ordinary clay?" Suddenly the differences came to me at once: using Brain Food was about the journey and not the destination. In other words - clay is usually about the transformation of the clay into something else, with the end result in mind during the process. For me, this product was about promoting release from stress and tension, relaxing, and refocusing your mind. Just the kind of food my brain needed!

As I played with it some more, I began to wonder about the more practical aspects of the product:

Does it bounce? When rolled into a ball, yes; quite well.

Does it melt? Yes. I left it in a hot car by accident and it melted to the inside of the container! But with a little persistence it peeled right out, like taffy.

Does it freeze? I only put it in the freezer for 15 minutes, and it came out stiff, but still pliable.

Does it print (like when you press Silly Putty onto comics and the comics are imprinted on it)? Yes, but only the black ink was imprinted onto the putty.

Does it harden over time if left sitting out? Yes (according to the website). I wanted to enjoy my Brain Food for months to come, so I didn't leave it sitting out!

What happens when it gets wet? I put it into a sink full of cold water and it sank to the bottom. I left it in there for several minutes to see if it would dissolve, but it kept its shape. Perhaps hot water would have yielded a different result. The water beaded right off of it when I took it out.

Does it keep its shape? Yes. I twisted it up into various shapes, and it did not un-twist itself.

Pros: Brain Food met all of my expectations.

Cons: May stain some surfaces or fabrics(according to the website).

Overall Opinion: I found Brain Food to be a versatile, non-messy alternative to clay. While I did not evaluate its effectiveness with my 5 year old daughter, I believe it would be a great teaching tool if used as directed on the Fat Brain website. Keep up the great work, Fat Brain Toys!