File this one under “Aw geez, why didn’t I think of that?”
Most people who have young children know about those small, disposable squeeze packs of pureed food, usually fruits, vegetables, yogurt or a combination.
Most young children like them. Canton resident Jordan Takas has a two-year-old daughter who likes them, a lot. At one point, Takas was buying them by the case.
“One night my wife said, ‘If someone made one of these that was refillable, I’d buy it in a second,’” Takas said. “That was a lightbulb moment for me.”
Now, the Takas’ company, EZ Squeezees, which they started at the very end of 2012, has tripled its first-quarter forecast for revenue. The company produces refillable pouches from which one can eat (suck?) pureed food.
“It’s comical,” said Takas. “If you don’t have kids, then you look at the product and say ‘Why in the world would you want this?’ If you do have kids, it’s ‘Oh my god, this is the most ingenious product ever!’”
Takas noted that a huge cost savings can be had by switching from disposable pouches to EZ Squeezees. While organic apple sauce in a jar costs 6 to 8 cents per ounce, the same product in a disposable squeeze pouch goes for 55 cents per ounce, Takas said.
While whole bananas cost 4 to 5 cents per ounce, bananas in a throw-away pouch go for 47 cents per ounce, he added.
Then there are the more complex pureed foods, such as chicken and broccoli casserole, which can be made at home for 22 cents an ounce, versus 87 cents per ounce for a store-bought squeeze pack.
Asked if EZ Squeezees were being marketed solely as a baby food pouch, Takas replied “Absolutely not.”
He and his wife, Alexis, are avid Crossfitters, or extreme exercise enthusiasts who make a sport out of combining difficult and super-strenuous strength and gymnastic movements. Takas found it difficult to live up to Crossfit’s strict dietary regimen while on the road as a salesman, his day job.
“I know it sounds kind of weird, but I’d puree some chicken, broccoli and olive oil, and I was good to go,” he said.
Takas said that acquaintances have requested a smaller pouch “to put my salad dressing in and take it to a restaurant,” or to hold “energy goo” for endurance athletes. Vegans and others with strict diets, Takas added, can appreciate a larger size for meals on the go.
“Unless you find a Whole Foods, you’re going to have trouble eating vegan,” Takas said.
The hardest part of getting the business off the ground, Takas said, was finding a manufacturer willing to work with him and his wife and produce prototypes to their specifications.
“There were not many people who wanted to try something new,” he said. “Everyone wants to sell you something off the shelf.”
Takas said that he and his wife are splitting responsibilities. She ships orders during the day; he works on marketing and “creative stuff” at night. The couple has “new deals with Europe and New Zealand,” and Takas reports that he sometimes sets an alarm for 2 a.m. for a 2:30 a.m. conference call.
He said that EZ Squeezees will soon be available at Whole Foods Harbor East. Wegman’s is currently conducting a strict quality test and considering stocking EZ Squeezees, too, he added.
EZ Squeezees can be found on the Web at ezsqueezees.com.
by Erik Zygmont