Entrepreneur's Flatware for Cancer Patients Wins 'Cool Idea' Prize

An Ohio entrepreneur has earned the opportunity to turn his cool idea into a reality.

Don Ladanyi, of Westlake, Ohio, has been named the first-ever recipient of the Proto Labs Cool Idea! award contest, which aims to help entrepreneurs bring innovative products to life. For winning, he receives prototyping and production services to help launch his product, TruFlavorWare.

Designed specifically for chemotherapy patients, TruFlavorware is nonmetallic, organic, taste-inert flatware that aims to make food taste better by eliminating the aversive electrochemical reactions caused by the metal knives, forks and spoons patients would normally use when eating meals.

The contest was sponsored by Proto Labs, a provider of computer numerical control (CNC) machines and injection-molded parts.

Larry Lukis, Proto Labs founder and chief technology officer, said the company created the Cool Idea! program as a way to stimulate innovation by helping deserving products move past the idea stage to actual market viability.

"Toxin-free flatware that restores the dignity of mealtime to cancer patients certainly fits the bill," Lukis said in a prepared release. "Don's taste-inert flatware is a cool idea because it solves a very basic problem – that is, how to neutralize the unpleasant taste caused by standard flatware when your sensitivity to metal or plastic is acute."

Ladanyi developed the idea for TruFlavorWare after dining with chopsticks and realizing how the neutrality of bamboo enhanced the flavor of his food.

"I knew how unpleasant it was trying to eat when all you can taste is metal or plastic, so I wanted to find a better solution," Ladanyi said in a press release. "I wanted to create something that would allow a strawberry fruit salad to taste like a pure strawberry fruit salad, not some harsh metallic version of a fruit salad."

In addition to its taste-inert properties, TruFlavorWare is BPA-free and made of an FDA-approved, proprietary composite material – described as non-metallic in nature and 100 percent tasteless, yet has the strength, weight and substantial feel of heavy metal flatware -- that has been ergonomically designed and weighted to approximate the substantial feel of stainless steel flatware.

Ladanyi is rolling out the product in the Cleveland area, with eventual plans to launch it across the country.

Proto Labs plans to announce additional winners of the Cool Idea! program. Throughout the course of this year, Proto Labs will provide a total of up to $100,000 worth of prototyping and short-run production services to award winners.