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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Jafflechutes

There are some things you hear of and immediately think, 'Only in Melbourne!'

Jafflechutes are one such thing.

...Jafflechutes, you say? What on earth are jafflechutes?!

Well. Have you heard of jaffles? The toasted sandwiches that you make using an electric sandwich maker that squashes the sandwich's edges together, sculpts it so it kinda looks like a moulded cake, makes the outside all nice and toasty and crusty, and melts the cheese inside, so you end up with a hot, gooey, salty, hand-held piece of deliciousness? Now marry that with a parachute, and you have a jafflechute.





Someone in this world not only had the amazing idea that a toasted sandwich could be thrown out a window attached to a parachute so it would float it down to its recipient, but then they actually put it into action. The someone was actually two people, Adam Grant and David McDonald, and the idea was born from Grant coming home one night having forgotten his keys. They were thrown down to him from the fifth floor, which hurt his hands and sparked a conversation between the two that more things should be delivered by parachute.

Their Facebook page describes Jafflechutes as "Melbourne's first, only and best pop-up float-down toasted sandwich delivery service". That just about sums it up. And it's AWESOME.

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With the inaugural session held on 16 August 2013 (intended as a one-off, but there have been more since), the Jafflechuters are building a small but steadily-growing, loyal following through Facebook and Twitter. It is through these forms of social media that they also let you know when a session is coming up. To my knowledge, there have only been a handful so far, and I was lucky enough to attend the latest one, tonight.

Orders opened at 3pm on Friday afternoon. You go to the Jafflechutes website, select your jaffle type, click through to PayPal where you pre-purchase the jaffle for a very reasonable price (my ham-and-cheese was $6.00), and request a time between the indicated hours. Today, on the Day of Jafflechuting, I received an email letting me know the precise CBD location - this time, Barry Lane, just near the corner of Lonsdale and Queen Streets. (Previous sessions have taken place in Flinders Lane.) I showed up at 6:55pm with some bemused friends in tow, for observation purposes. We found the spot, clearly marked by a big blue X on the ground. Jafflechutes ahoy!

Jafflechute partakers patiently wait in the specified laneway by the X.


Mine was one of the first jaffles to be chuted, and the first one with an orange parachute! (The first few had been blue.) (I know, I know... it's the small things.)

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Apparently the first Jafflechutes session went somewhat awry, with troublesome winds causing many of the 'chutes to land in trees or on awnings. Today, the weather was more amenable to Jafflechuting purposes: sunshine and a balmy 32 degrees, with nary a breeze in sight feel. Nevertheless, the exact floating direction of each Jafflechute could not be strictly enforced, so while most made it successfully to ground level, several did fall hostage to a pesky ledge partway down the side of the building.


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On catching a jaffle, most recipients read the packaging to find it was not theirs, so would shout out the name written on the paper bag to find the jaffle's rightful owner. There was a real sense of community - plus the act of watching the jaffles float down was gleeful in itself. I had such a fun time.

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Some people were lucky enough to catch their own, though.

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Whether they'd caught the jaffle themselves or not, most people were pretty chuffed when theirs arrived.

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The jaffles themselves were pretty good - just your standard home-made jaffle, nothing fancy. I very much enjoyed mine. Hadn't had one in yonks!





I will say, the packaging was very impressive. For homemade parachutes, a lot of work had gone into them! They'd been cut from orange or blue garbage bags, it looked like, or some kind of lightweight plastic sheet. They even had scalloped edges and a hole in the centre, presumably for better airflow.



Then 8 or 10 lengths of clear fishing wire had been taped evenly around the parachute, joined at the other end and attached to a mesh of colourful pipe cleaners, used to envelop the brown paper bag containing the sandwich.




On the bag was the recipient's name, time requested, and type of jaffle, handwritten. Inside the bag was the jaffle, wrapped in alfoil and, thoughtfully, accompanied by a paper napkin.



Considering the work that had gone into making each parachute and jaffle, and all the admin involved (website updates, social media posts, processing payments, filling special requests where possible, etc), I don't think the Jafflechuters would be making much of a profit, if any. It must be a labour of love!

Some of the 'chutes had two separately-wrapped jaffles within the pipe cleaners, presumably to save time or to fill double orders. The girl next to me had ordered two, one for herself and one for her man-friend who, she informed me, couldn't eat cheese - so, yes, they had requested a cheese-less jaffle for him, which the Jafflechuters had kindly provided.

In the process of filming incoming Jafflechutes on my iPhone and trying to get some half-decent footage for a blog post, I actually caught one of the Jafflechutes - well, it practically landed on me.

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No idea if Jan ended up getting their jaffle, but Hayley seemed pretty stoked to get hers.

As we left, the growing crowd was spilling out of the laneway onto Lonsdale Street - probably quite a funny sight if you didn't know what was going on.



At the lights, we bumped into two blokes on drift trikes: funny, low-to-the-ground cycling devices that I had never seen or heard of before. I asked the guys if I could take their picture, as it was the second unusual thing I'd seen that day, and then of course had to direct them back up towards the jaffles for a look-see.



So the end of my day was marked by the sight of drift-trikers buzzing up the hill towards the Jafflechutes. Ah, Melbourne - I love you!





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