Food Technologist Tom Yang works for the U.S. Army and he makes amazing stuff – food that lasts up to three years, even in places where the temperature regularly climbs over 110° F. As Tom says, he wants the soldiers who eat his food to feel like it’s “mom-cooked.” And the fact of the matter is that it does taste pretty good. I’m not particularly a fan of beef jerky, but if I’m going to eat jerky (instead of just being jerky), I’ll eat Tom’s military ration jerky. It’s tasty and less salty than the kind you get at the Quik-E-Mart. By night, Tom Yang is a GANGSTER.
Now in our infinite “Secret Life” wisdom, we decided to premiere Tom right around Thanksgiving because we figured he uses science to make food… and what do people do on Thanksgiving? Eat ridiculous amounts of food! And what do people do after Thanksgiving? Eat ridiculous amounts of food! Nothing like a leftover turkey (or for that matter – jerky) sandwich after you get back from the carnage at the mall.
So there’s the food.
But honestly, what sets Tom apart is the wild man he becomes when he takes off that lab coat of his. Tom had been clandestinely singing karaoke (and “making ladies cry”) for years before he ever shared his talents with his work colleagues, but then…
“… one day we had a gathering outside the lab, and there happened to be a karaoke machine. And in that kind of scenario, everybody says ‘Oh, I’m not going to sing.’ So I just went up to the stage, and my colleagues didn’t know what I was going to do. They probably thought I was going to give them a speech or something. And then I said ‘Play this song.’ It happened to be very, very fast, wild rock and roll music. I just sang it out and everybody almost had a heart attack. That’s how I shocked them.”
Turned out the mild-mannered scientist could belt out “Rebel Yell” just like he was Billy Idol. Who knew?
Now U.S. soldiers around the world are thankful to Tom for his jerky, his macaroni and cheese and all kinds of other delicious and long-lasting treats. But we’re thankful to Tom for something else. In our crazed digital world of chronic 24-hour-a-day over-sharing, it can seem like we know everything about everybody before they even get the chance to open their mouths. The delicious (and surprising) truth, though, is that the guy who spends his daytime hours wearing a hairnet and making heat-resistant M&M’s might just have a rock and roll heart even bigger than Elvis.