Fans lament loss of Hungry Jack microwavable syrup bottle

in Packaging Design on November 07, 2014

Here’s a tip: Don’t take a package away from your customers that they love.

For 20 years, consumers enjoyed the convenience and luxury of being able to quickly heat up their Hungry Jack syrup in the microwave—thanks to ingenuity in packaging. But earlier this year, brand owner J.M. Smucker replaced the squat container with a tall bottle similar to all the other ones out there. Frustrated Facebook fans were quick to speak up about the change; and the fervent complaints continue.

Lane Crouch posted this on the Hungry Jack Facebook page two days ago (on Nov. 4): “All breakfast syrup tastes the same. I used Hungry Jack only because of the bottle. I could easily tell when it was hot, and didn't have to dirty another container to heat the syrup. Now I can't do that, because you chose to change the bottle. I haven't seen a single person on the Internet who approves of this. I stopped using Hungry Jack syrup when the bottle was changed, and switched to Aunt Jemima. Getting me, and a lot of other people, back is easy: just go back to the old bottle. I don't believe for a second that consumer preference caused you to change it.”

The Washington Post columnist John Kelly got wind of the brewing storm and dived into the debate.

Is there a conspiracy? What’s the real reason behind the decision? He speculates “that corporate explanation—‘a shift in consumer preference’—sounds fishy.”

Kelly asked me if I knew of any other well-loved packages that were discontinued and I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head (and still can’t). Can you?

In 1994 when then-brand owner General Mills introduced the microwavable bottle, it was hailed as a marvel of packaging engineering with its differentiated shape and size, stay-cool handle, patented thermochromatic label that indicates when the syrup was hot and no-drip closure. I can’t remember if this won any packaging awards at the time and couldn’t find any information about that on the internet (yes, I did click through more than just the first page of results). But I would be surprised if it hadn’t.

I, too, lament the loss of Hungry Jack’s microwavable bottle because it seems like a step backward. And it sends the wrong signal to all you hard-working packaging professionals who want to leave a legacy of innovation. I’d love to hear from any of the dozens and dozens of people who developed the original container to see how you feel now. I'd also like to know what other packaging designers and developers think. Is this a step back or does the new container have equal merit? Leave your comments below.

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In today's market, Voice of the Customer should drive business decisions. A focus group session with Hungry Jack customers would have shown disapproval of the packaging change. Instead of listening to their customers, they made the decision to change. Our family loves the convenience of the microwaveable bottle. If I was a competitor, I would jump on the opportunity to deliver my product in a microwaveable bottle and steal market share. Once it's gone, it's very difficult to get back.
Hello. LIsa. I was part of the original design and development team at Continental Plastic Container when this innovative syrup container was developed and implemented and am named on the patent. At the time this was some interesting innovation, was a lot of fun and we developed a package that had some real use advantages. I'm sorry to see it go. It addressed a real need (microwave heating ability) was unique and gave the product a real point of differentiation. All things go through cycles
I am a consumer that is extremely unhappy with the change in the "Coffeemate" flavored liquid creamers package. It's like some idiot manager somewhere decided to take a giant step backward in the area of innovative packaging. Why anyone would decide to go from the ingenious ring-pull, molded-in TE feature back to the "old" technology of the foil seal is mind boggling. The change was probably "cost" driven without any consideration for customer preference. Of course, "cost" is important but why
I developed the label for this bottle and it truly was a unique bottle (package) along with the heat sensitive label. I am very disappointed to read this and in the past would buy this product automatically. It will no longer be an automatic purchase.
I can't imagine why any one would buy Hungry Jack Syrup any longer. The convenience of the bottle was the main reason for purchasing it. I don't think there is a great difference in the tastes. Maybe if they lost a lot of sales they would rethink this decision and go back to the convenient microwavable bottle. I managed to save a bottle, so I can add any brand to the bottle, so guess that is the way I will have to go. Shame on them for not checking with their customer base. Bad idea. Shame.
I to also saved a bottle just to pour other syrup into it. It was a stupid decision to change bottling when they had a corner on the market for microwavable bottles. I used the sugar free syrup and will be using Log Cabin for now on.
My family is a huge fan of the microwaveable bottle and will be sad to see it go. I may have to save the one I have, rewash it and keep using it. Unfortunately as quoted in the article, price will now drive my purchasing decision for regular syrup. I'd never looked at the price before because I loved the convenience of the bottle. Even my daughters loved the smiley face in the cap!
just another company thinking there doing the right thing before asking there buyers what they think we bought this bottle for years but now there is no reason to buy it any more! O-well!
My concern with the microwaveable Hungry Jack bottles is possible leaching such as BPA toxins and bottle durability over time with use. I believe it was a fantastic marketing idea, however, nobody seemed to have followed suit with a similar bottle. Possibly a health concern ?
Bring it back now. I putting the new syrup in the old microwave bottle. Don't how safe that is, but I have hot syrup,
We have bought the microwavable bottle since it first came out in the 90's. Either they discovered we were all slowly poisoning ourselves or they want to decrease sales. Price is now driving our syrup purchases and I am buying Aldi syrup among other brands, no Hungry Jack.
I have been using the Hungry Jack Microwavable bottle for many years and am disappointed to see it has changed. I will be using other bands of syrup unless it is changed back.
I picked up a glass syrup pitcher the last time I was at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Now I have to remove the lid to nuke the syrup, but I can put anybody's syrup in it, even my homemade stuff. Hungry Jack is now just another generic syrup.
On Jan 8, 2015, I received this from Lyle Gunderman: "Apparently I was one of the last to hear of the cancellation of the microwaveable syrup bottle. Hungry Jack had a small market all to themselves. Now, they're just one more bottle on the shelf of many look-alikes. BTW, the bottle had another advantage: In addition to fitting in a microwave, it also fit in any shelf in your kitchen cabinets. You didn't need a tall shelf for it, like other syrups. Thanks for an interesting article! --Lyle"
I just a few weeks ago threw out my microwave syrup bottle and went to get a new one recently and found that none of the grocery stores carry it anymore. What in the heck are these guys thinking. I hope it was for health reasons and they come back with a new bottle after seeing all the folks upset about it.
There are a few store brands that have a short/squat syrup bottle made for microwaving. The bottle may not be as comfortable, but the syrup is better. Pretty sure Target carries it.
I heard that Smucker was concerned with a possible link between chemicals leeching out of the plastic and into the syrup and autism.
Our bottle lasted for years! I dropped it and broke the handle off and started looking for another one and found out this amazing bottle with the no drip pour, heat sensitive label that would let you know "hot" and perfect short size for the microwave is no more. It was part of our family. Unbelievable! :-(
The reason behind most changes these days has to do with marketing... I can see them now telling consumers that, yea it's smaller but the price per ounce is still the same.... well that goes for right now but give them a few months and the price per container will go back to where it was. So now you have less product for the same price and people that don't know any better or don't pay attention to the ounce pricing now think there aren't losing because they used to pay this and that it even to
Good news I was notified today 3-16-2015 by hungry Jack the bottle will be back this summer. Hope this makes your day a little brighter. :)
AMEN! I just tried to buy it and immediately came home and did a search to find out why it was not available (hoping it was not a health issue/reason). Although, my husband and I really got a kick out of reading some of the replies this is really seriously good news! I can't wait for the come back! LOL.
Meanwhile I've been saving an old bottle and refilling it, how safe is that to be reusing over and over?!
I was wondering if they had a health concern on their hands with microwaving the plastic. My grocery store did not know why it was gone and I switched to another brand.
I also was a long time consumer of Hungry Jack Syrup in the microwaveable bottle and very disappointed they have stopped using this bottle. I also wonder if there was something unsafe about microwaving in this bottle but "doubt" anyone would give us the real scoop on this. I totally agree with the person who said the syrup was no better than many others but the bottle made the difference.
I am a mom and grandmother who.used the Hungry Jack microwavable syrup for years. When it disappeared from Walmart. I searched other stores trying to find it. I do not understand why they stopped making it. As the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
I want to know if there health implications to using the microwaveable bottle all of those years and now the company would rather quietly change the design, which clearly states"Do not microwave in this container", than say there was anything wrong with the old design.