The Next Big Dumb Thing In Food Shuts Down
Forget gadgets. Go local.
Juicero, maker of an insanely expensive, widely mocked juicing gizmo, announced last week the company was shutting down. In a statement posted on the company's website, the Silicon Valley-based startup said, "creating an effective manufacturing and distribution system for a nationwide customer base requires infrastructure that we cannot achieve on our own as a standalone business." In truth, Juicero's product was just patently ridiculous.
Juicero was marketed as "the world's first at-home, cold-press juicer." The wifi-connected, "smart technology" juicing machine squeezed a specially designed packet of produce into a single glass of juice.
Fruit and veggie packets were available from the company by paid subscription. The packets were marked with a QR code, which allowed the company to track a customer's juicing preferences. Juicero's app then suggested different "recipes," which were often nothing more than other Juicero packets a customer could buy. Customers who wanted to fill the packets with their own produce were out of luck. "To ensure quality and freshness," the company wrote, "we have special filling and sealing requirements for our Packs to work with the Press."
Swiss designer Yves Béhar, founder of Fuseproject and one of the most sought-after industrial designers in the world, designed the pressing machine. The machine first retailed for $699, before being reduced to $399. Early fans included Ivanka Trump, who Tweeted her support.
According to Gizmodo, Thrive Capital was an early investor in Juicero. Thrive Capital is an investment firm founded by Ivanka Trump’s brother-in-law, Joshua Kushner.
Juicero was founded by entrepreneur Doug Evans, a vegan, foodie, and raw foods and juicing aficionado. Evans fancies himself the Steve Jobs of the juicing world. "Not all juice is equal," he told the New York Times. "How do you measure life force? How do you measure chi?"
There was just one problem with Evan's chi-like juicing doohickey. It was useless. In a now-famous article by Bloomberg, reporters found the company's packets didn't require the machine at all. One could squeeze the packets by hand and get the exact same result.
What to take from all this? Go local.
When you work in the food industry, you see this sort of thing all the time. Trends come and go. Fads are hip one day and absurd the next. But one thing remains the same: high-quality food, grown locally, never goes out of style. The Upper Valley is loaded with small family farms taking care of the land and cultivating food with care. To enjoy, no fancy gadgets or apps are required.
Juicero is offering refunds on all its products until Dec. 1, 2017. To learn more about the company and its claims, browse cached versions of its website on the Internet Archive.