Juice It Yourself
Don’t spend $400 on this juicer.
Here’s a really beautiful and dumb story about a lot of things, really: the hubris of Silicon Valley, the ridiculousness of “juice” and what people will buy with vast sums of money in the name of ease.
Juicero is a startup that makes a machine that squeezes juice from pre-packaged plastic packets of fruits and vegetables. The machine itself costs $400 — just under the price of a Vitamix, which is a blender and not a machine that has just one purpose — and is internet-connected, in case you need to somehow track your juice consumption via an app or whatever.
The actual stuff you make juice out of comes in packaged plastic pouches, like those pouches of applesauce and mushed peas that babies eat. They are sold together. You have the juice packets sent to you weekly and your expensive squeezey machine squeezes it.
Here’s where the story gets good.
But after the product hit the market, some investors were surprised to discover a much cheaper alternative: You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands. Two backers said the final device was bulkier than what was originally pitched and that they were puzzled to find that customers could achieve similar results without it. Bloomberg performed its own press test, pitting a Juicero machine against a reporter’s grip. The experiment found that squeezing the bag yields nearly the same amount of juice just as quickly — and in some cases, faster — than using the device.
I do not have access to a Juicero nor do I have acecss to the Juicero bags, but the problem that Juicero purports to have solved using a machine that costs $400 seems pretty negligble.
Watching this man descend quickly into madness while cutting produce and searching through his well-appointed kitchen for the top part of his juicer and losing his shit in the process is incredible. This video is amazing. It is everything. Please bury me with this video. This is the very definition of a product designed to solve for a problem that simply doesn’t exist. Do you think they knew that? Surprise again, they did.
A person close to the company said Juicero is aware the packs can be squeezed by hand but that most people would prefer to use the machine because the process is more consistent and less messy. The device also reads a QR code printed on the back of each produce pack and checks the source against an online database to ensure the contents haven’t expired or been recalled, the person said. The expiration date is also printed on the pack.
My thinking here is that most people would not want to use the machine because the machine costs $400 and if you can squeeze the shit with your hands and get the same result, then why would you send $400 on an item that exists for one thing only? Trouble is, the juice packets with the pre-cut fruit and vegetables aren’t sold separately so if you want ’em, you have to buy the whole shebang. Also, no one wants a QR code, ever.
In response to the backlash, Juicero’s CEO wrote a post doubling down on the necessity of a $400 machine that squeezes plastic bags of juice inefficiently. First, here are the reasons why the Juicero and the Packs that hold what look to be mushed carrots that you could certainly mush yourselves are important. Here’s what they do.
1. The first closed loop food safety system that allows us to remotely disable Produce Packs if there is, for example, a spinach recall. In these scenarios, we’re able to protect our consumers in real-time.
2. Consistent pressing of our Produce Packs calibrated by flavor to deliver the best combination of taste and nutrition every time.
3. Connected data so we can manage a very tight supply chain, because our product is live, raw produce, and has a limited lifespan of about 8 days.
Remember that the Juicero is wi-fi enabled, because you certainly need your overpriced juice machine to be connected to the internet. But, Juicero’s CEO wants the consumer to know that he’s looking out for the little guy. The real value in letting a machine squeeze a plastic bag full of organic vegetable mush is the time you save.
The value is in how easy it is for a frazzled dad to do something good for himself while getting the kids ready for school, without having to prep ingredients and clean a juicer.
It’s in how the busy professional who needs more greens in her life gets App reminders to press Produce Packs before they expire, so she doesn’t waste the hard-earned money she spent on them.
I am sure someone thought it would be brilliant to paint the picture of a stay at home dad making juice for Flannery and Madder while Mom brings home the bacon. Nice touch, Juicero!
Here’s a solution that is very easy. If you love juice and you want everyone to know it or you just want to make juice and then also soup and various sauces and whatever else, take the $400 + cost of delivery for the juice packets, buy a Vitamix and call it a day.
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