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Stouffer’s Pizza: A Frozen Box of Yuck

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Isn’t the main function of product packaging—aside from preserving the contents— to entice the potential buyer?

If this is the case, why do I feel the urge to vomit when I look at a box of Stouffer’s Pizza?

Images on product packaging can speak volumes. Their purpose is to lure the consumer into buying something that looks so irresistible they can’t pass it up. Coca-Cola looks beautifully refreshing when an image of it splashing all over an icy glass catches your eye. A gleaming, pearly smile on a Crest toothpaste box persuades us to look our best. The gorgeous and voluptuous women on AXE body spray cans remind us of what we’re missing out on if we don’t buy that product.

So who dropped the ball over at Stouffer’s? The depiction of the preservative-laden pizza producer we see in the frozen foods section is an absolute disaster. The slab of pizza shown on the product’s box is a mess; the cheese is not melted, the crust looks waterlogged and the sauce is applied sloppily. If this is what they’re throwing out against the likes of DiGiorno’s and Freschetta, why waste the cardboard? While we’re at it, whatever happened to normal-shaped pizza?

Stouffer’s unorthodox marketing strategy apparently is to appeal to those consumers who enjoy gross pizza. There’s no other explanation for this foul play. I say fire the packaging department and start from scratch.



Now that's what I'm talking about!

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Falafel’s: The Next Great Fast Food Chain

September 8, 2010 2 comments

Every now and again I think about the next great franchise.

Will it be an electronics outlet, like Best Buy? Could it be another toy store like Toys-R-Us? Perhaps it will be a gym with a discounted-membership, such as Planet Fitness?

While these are all healthy and profitable businesses, it’s well known that the franchise model translates best to the quick-service food industry. Franchising helped corporate giants like McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut grow to the gargantuan levels on which they operate today.

Although fast food franchises have the best track record of success, hasn’t this market been fully saturated for some time now? You can find a burger and fries just about anywhere. Pizza has always been readily available. Grade ‘D’ meat is accessible via Taco Bell’s Chalupas and Cheesy Gordita Crunches. Fast seafood has been refined by the appalling Long John Silver’s chain. And with the influx of “upscale” quick-service franchises like Chipotle, Fresh City and Panera Bread, there isn’t much wiggle room left to innovate within this market.

Or is there?

Introducing the next great fast food chain: “Falafel’s.”

Mediterranean food has yet to be accounted for in fast food’s industrial composition. Pita bread, grape leaves and hummus have untapped potential. Picture Subway, but with pita wraps in place of sub rolls. Chicken and steak are grilled, with fresh veggies and spices adding flavor to a limitless menu. Additionally, the health-consciousness Mediterranean food provides make the timing of a falafel chain just right. And with the relative simplicity of the cuisine, the franchising transition would be utterly seamless.

It makes sense. So why hasn’t the first “Falafel’s” location been opened yet? Perhaps the millions of redneck Americans who make up fast food’s target market associate Mediterranean food with Al Qaeda. Maybe investors are worried middle-eastern fare would not appeal to a wide enough consumer base. Or it could be that people are simply frightened by the appearance of hummus.

Whatever the case may be, it’s a shame nobody with a few million dollars to spare has experimented with the idea yet. The best part about this proposal is the relative inexpensiveness of overhead; all you need is a grill, some tongs and a frialator and you’re basically in business. Once you get a few customers in the door to try the food, the business will expand through word-of-mouth and local promotions.

Who ever thought there would be a fast food demand for international cuisines like Panda Express and Taco Bell? My point is that all franchises originated somewhere at sometime, unbeknownst to how they would perform in the long term. “Falafel’s” could be a disaster upon introduction, but how can we know for sure? We can’t until we try. So try a gyro—because they’re pretty damn good.