To most adults, minestrone is a vomit-textured soup available in a packet from all cheap supermarkets. But to youngsters and hipsters, it is the latest craze in gaming.
Minestrone is the world's most popular video game on mobile phones. The aim of the game is simple: to create a virtual bowl of minestrone soup using a random set of ingredients. There is no particular skill required; simply put the onions, beans, chicken, carrots or other available ingredients into a bowl by dragging them. Then you can share your finished soup with friends, or post them on the internet as a "soup of the day".
The appeal of the game may appear obscure to outsiders, but addicts will happily spend hours a day creating new bowls of minestrone and sharing them. Unemployed player Geoff Hamm, 19, spoke to TheSpoof about his habit. He has logged over 2,000 hours on the game. "Oh yeah," he grunted. "Every morning I wake up and make a bowl of minestrone. It's really addictive. It's funny because I'm actually allergic to soup, but with this game, I can make as much as I want."
There are thousands of videos on YouTube where people give tutorials about the app, or show off their best soups. Hollywood film studios have even begun to write a script for Minestrone: the Movie. It's hard to exaggerate how many people spend almost every waking hour on this game.
The creators are a company based in Edinburgh called Skag who had previously announced that they wanted to write a product that was a form of "virtual heroin." It appears that they may have succeeded.
Lead developer Hamish McButcher explained how he came up with the idea. "Och, I was trying to make some minestrone soup from a packet, and I ended up spilling it all over my computer. I thought 'some prick is going to pay for that', so I decided to write an addictive game and milk all these stupid c***s for all their cash. That soup has paid for itself many times over."