For decades, consumers have struggled to rip open and squeeze ketchup from those tiny plastic packets--carefully aiming the red sticky substance onto their burgers and fries. The trick is--how to get the ketchup on the food, and off your hands, clothes, friends, and well--all over the place.
Some use their teeth to rip open the plastic container.
Others keep their fingernails sharp in order to expertly tear an opening.
And, of course, there are those who use the "squeeze from the bottom" or the "grab and spat" technique of ketchup removal.
But now, after decades of stagnant innovation in the ketchup package department, H. J. Heinz Co. says it has created a better ketchup packet.
The new "Dip and Squeeze" packets hold three times the ketchup as traditional packets, and allow the red gooey substance to be squeezed out through one end or the lid can be peeled back for dipping.
Dip, or squeeze.
While the new containers are more expensive than the old packets, they hold more ketchup, so consumers will use fewer packets--creating an overall cost savings to retailers, and decreasing wasteful packaging.
Burger chain Wendy's is the first major chain to adopt the new packets. You can also find the Dip and Squeeze packets at Chick-fil-A and Dairy Queen. McDonald's and Burger King are lagging these innovators as they test-market the new design.
So, how did Heinz create the idea of Dip and Squeeze?
The research and development process for the new packaging took an innovative twist. Apparently, Heinz used a juiced-up focus group environment, studying consumers in 20 fake minivan interiors putting ketchup on fries, burgers, and chicken nuggets. The vice president of global packaging innovation and execution, even bought a used minivan and took rides through burger-joint drive-throughs to order fries and apply ketchup in the confined space.
While I'm not sure why minivans were the preferred choice of testing environment, I can appreciate the attempt at innovative thinking.
Congratulations Heinz, for shaking up the ketchup packet after 40 years of stagnant innovation.
America--go forth and Dip and Squeeze.