Watch Teens Freak Out When a Tricked-Out Pepper Grinder Shuts Down Wi-Fi

There are some epic tantrums over having to eat dinner instead of texting friends.
Apr 12, 2015·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Fed up with tech-addicted friends and family members who don’t know how to stop tweeting and texting at the dinner table? Just grind a little pepper onto everyone’s food, and all the electronic devices in your home will suddenly stop working.

That’s the clever idea behind the Dolmio Pepper Hacker, a prototype device created by an Australian pasta sauce brand for the company’s latest advertising campaign. The creators tweaked the inside of the device so that one twist serves up pepper and enables the user to temporarily kill the Wi-Fi in a home, shut down a smartphone signal, or even disable a television.

Brendan Forster, head of creative technology at Clemenger BBDO, the ad agency that came up with the concept for Dolmio, told Mumbrella that the souped-up pepper grinder works like an electromagnetic pulse, which enables it to shut down anything that is connected to a central automated switch.

As you can see in the video above, Dolmio tested its souped-up pepper grinder with four families—the moms were all in on the experiment—and there are some epic reactions from the tweens and teens when the electronic devices stop working.

“Tablets and tantrums were thrown,” states the video. “But the world didn’t end. Family dinnertime was reclaimed.”

The idea of shutting down electronic devices so family members will focus on other things seems to be gaining steam. Back in February, a dad in Portland, Oregon, created the VexBox, which slows down the Wi-Fi signal on various devices to old-school dial-up speeds. The result is so frustrating to teens that they’ll do their chores or homework or come eat dinner just to be able to regain access to faster Wi-Fi.

In the meantime, Dolmio hasn’t indicated for sure whether it will try to manufacture and sell the grinder. “The dinner table is one of those moments where the family should be together, and by using the Pepper Cracker in this way, hopefully it starts a bit of a debate about what technology is doing in the home. If Dolmio is part of that, then that’s a great thing,” Forster said.