The team asked me to write about something fun, so I’m going to start with something not fun…
Think of the last time you tried a sample in a grocery store. Did you dart-in for the grab, then quickly avert your attention to something else to avoid talking to the demo person? Was the sample tray kind of disheveled? Did you know what you were eating? Did you even care?
I’ll admit, I’m a demo hound. My older brother taught me well. I can geo-locate a freshly microwaved square of pizza all the way from aisle 13. But somewhere along the line, that free food appeal lost its fun. I started to question how many hands had been digging beneath the plastic dome covering the cheese tray, and I realized that most people were just trying to grab a bite before racing off to pick up Timmy from soccer practice. Not fun.
Yet in the past week, I’ve had a collection of experiences that reminded me that food can be, and should be...FUN. First, the demo. Simple Mills has been expanding into Whole Foods stores in the Midwest Region, and to celebrate we did a demo at the flagship store in Chicago. As the new guy on the Simple Mills team, I won the prize of spending my Saturday handing out our banana and chocolate muffins. I was cautiously optimistic, but also fearing the typical demo experience that had become all too familiar throughout the years. I wanted my demo to be better somehow…to be FUN. Was that even possible?
Well, I spent three hours at a grocery store on a Saturday, and came away with an answer: an emphatic “YES!”, food can still be fun. I had fun working with the team at Whole Foods to get setup and registered (Robert and Kara – you rock!). I had fun talking to people about their buying habits. I had fun getting Simple Mills better exposure in our hometown. But most of all, I had fun telling people about the amazingly simple, delicious, and nutritious products we make, and seeing the incredible response we elicited by sharing a product like Simple Mills instead of microwaved pizza. People cared. They told me stories of trying for years to find products that meet their needs. They gave me business cards, suggesting we partner. They asked to join our team. One woman even took a box of our banana muffin mix and carried it around the store, marketing FOR us (didn’t see that one coming). It was incredible. I spent my Saturday at a grocery store, and came away rejuvenated.
So yes, food can be fun – if you keep it simple, keep it real, and strive to help people live better lives.