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Food synthesizer, 2268

A food synthesizer

The food synthesizer, food replicator or food processor was a common device used aboard 23rd century starships and starbases for synthesizing foods and beverages. Replacing the older protein resequencer, these food receptacles served as a supplement to the ship's chef and were predecessors to 24th century replicators. Unlike replicators, with which food orders were made by voice command, food orders given to food synthesizers were usually made by program tapes or cards inserted into a slot.

Most TOS novels use the term "food slots".

Technical specifications[]

The two prevailing glucose matrices for food synthesis in the 2250s were the Katzman glucose matrix and Gupta glucose matrix. The USS Enterprise used the "Una glucose matrix," though, named for its creator, Number One, which combined the best qualities of each with a more palatable result. (ST: "Q&A")

According to a commercial for Tribbles cereal, food synthesizers were equipped with replicator safety protocols, which made it impossible for anyone to synthesize any type of hazardous foods. Still, overriding the program was possible. (ST: "The Trouble with Edward" credit cookie)

The commercial was presented as a post-credits scene in ST: "The Trouble with Edward". The context of the commercial from an in-universe perspective is impossible to determine, and it may not have been meant to be taken literally.


Vulcan food processor

The Vulcan food processor

In the mid-22nd century, T'Les had a food processor in her house on Vulcan. When T'Les' daughter T'Pol and Trip Tucker were visiting the residence in 2154, the food synthesizer was broken, so T'Les asked Tucker if he could fix it, but he didn't have an opportunity to reply, due to the arrival of Koss. Later however, he did the repairs and fixed it. (ENT: "Home")

The repaired part of the food processor was a prop which previously appeared as the krellide power cell in the first season episode "The Andorian Incident". ("The Andorian Incident", text commentary, ENT Season 1 DVD special feature)

Food synthesizers were located in numerous locations throughout Constitution-class starships, including the transporter room. (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday", "This Side of Paradise")

Discovery food synthesizer

A food synthesizer aboard the USS Discovery

A series of food synthesizers were located in the mess hall aboard the Crossfield-class starship USS Discovery. When Commander Saru offered Michael Burnham some blueberries aboard the Discovery in 2256 and she responded that they tasted different from ones she had eaten in prison, Saru reckoned that was less likely to be "a food synthesizer issue" than a result of the environment she was eating them in, which Burnham casually agreed with. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings")

In 2268, when the Enterprise was infested with tribbles, it was discovered that they had entered into the food processors aboard the ship through one of the ship's air vents. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

One of the reasons Rojan cited for neutralizing non-essential Enterprise personnel during the trip to the Andromeda Galaxy was to conserve the food synthesizer's resources. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")

Food cards

Food cards used in the food synthesizers

Nurse Chapel offered the surviving children of the Starnes Exploration Party a selection of cards with differing flavors of ice cream to choose from. All they had to do was pick a card and the computer would mix their favorite combination. (TOS: "And the Children Shall Lead")

Upon taking on a contingent of Klingon officers, led by Kang, aboard the Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk ordered Johnson to have the food synthesizers programmed to accommodate their guests. (TOS: "Day of the Dove")

Food synthesizer, 2270

A malfunctioning voice-commanded food synthesizer

By 2270, the food synthesizers aboard the Enterprise were converted over to a voice-command ordering system. (TAS: "The Practical Joker")

Romulan D7-class battle cruisers were also equipped with food synthesizers. (TAS: "The Practical Joker")

The term food synthesizer was still used occasionally while explaining the more advanced replicator to others. (TNG: "The Vengeance Factor")

A deleted scene from Star Trek Into Darkness would have established that food synthesizers existed in the alternate reality also, and that they utilized "coffee cells". [1]

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