Bompas & Parr

Mercedes Drive-Thru

Reinventing a culinary and cultural icon – and taking it to new extremes.
Mercedes Drive-Thru

A fresh look at the cult of in-car dining

London, 2012: As part of the Avant/Garde Diaries curatorial programme, Bompas & Parr collaborated with light artist Jason Bruges Studio to create a vast pulsating light installation that offered a 21st-century interpretation of the iconic fast-food drive-thru.

The Mercedes Drive-Thru featured a revolving restaurant and a troupe of roller girls (The Doughnuteers) alongside a number of specially commissioned accompaniments: uniforms by Tour de Force; an artistic triptych entitled The Four Horsemen of the Oesophagus; specially choreographed soundscape; and the world's fastest cheese trolley, capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in around 6.6 seconds (clue: it was a Mercedes).


The design of the installation and dishes on the menu itself (with signatures including a 'Big Merc' burger) was developed following research into the gustatory implications of in-car dining by food scientist Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart.

Following a six-month intensive burger quest we deconstructed the popular sandwich and worked out the ideal proportions of sugar, fat and salt, to ensure the food would trigger the brain's reward system and release pleasure-inducing dopamine.

The route took vehicles beneath Selfridges and along a 40m stretch of polished marble. This marble was a key inspiration for the project due to its role in exploring the theory of embodied taste. Polished marble surfaces are a signifier of good taste while the vector for flavour in meat is the marbled fat (eg in a steak). An adjoining revolving restaurant was provided for diners who arrived on foot to see the action.

As part of the project Bompas & Parr collaborated with renowned scent experts Dawn Goldworm of 12.29 to create salami-based artisanal air fresheners, designed to dangle from visitors’ rear view mirrors.

Photography by Ann Charlott Ommedal, Beth Evans and Ben Pruchnie.