Brought to you by capitalism's ceaseless invention: FreeHand Trays.

Just in time for today's noon-hour food truck onslaught in downtown Minneapolis, the Golden Valley-based company is handing out samples of its -- and apologies in advance for this -- handy product. I encountered a super-friendly (this is Minnesota, after all) FHT representative on Marquette Avenue at 7th Street.

What a cool idea, one that's especially useful for the stand-up dining experience that is the downtown food truck scene: a stiff, square cardboard tray that allows food truck diners (or ballpark fans, or fair/festival-goers, or party guests, you get the drift) to securely hold their food in one hand, and use the free hand for eating. Or drinking; there's a convenient cup-holder cutout, and a plastic cup. No more crazy balancing acts.



They recall the tops of those familar copier paper boxes, only sturdier. And half the size: it measures 9 1/2 inches by 9 1/2 inches, with a 2-inch rim. Yes, the company will create custom versions.

The trays are made with all the right buzzword materials: 100 percent post-consumer paper content that's 100 percent recyclable, 100 percent biodegradable, 100 compostable and, according to the fine print on the box,  "100 percent awesome." There's some truth in that, although it's a bit tough to imagine the condition of downtown's rare and already-overworked sidewalk waste bins when these start to land in the mix.

Odds are that the FreeHand Tray is going to be the smart office accessory for the remainder of the street-food season. Oh, and don't try this at home, because the company says it has multiple patents pending. Quick poll: Which food truck is going to (wisely) offer the FreeHand Tray first? 



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