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Recipes, thoughts and rants from Mallow & Hop.

A Packaging Epiphany

Karen Marshall

I took a giant leap: last week was my first full week of working 30 hours a week, voluntarily reducing the standard 40 after 5 years at my day job.  The cons are that I am being compensated commensurate with the reduced hours. The pros are that I get 15 hours a week of my life back and leave at 1:30pm every day. When I get on the freeway to go home, there's a sign not unlike this one telling me the estimated minutes until the 405, which is a decent estimation of how much longer I'll be on the freeway.

I was used to seeing 30-35 on that sign. If Obama was in town, maybe 45-50.

The past week it was 13 every single day. Every. single. day. It's traffic heaven.

Of course, this lights a huge fire under my ass. I'm putting an opportunity cost investment equivalent to 25% of my income into Mallow & Hop. Investors expect results.

But we have the same problems we've always had:

  • Many people mis-identify the product, thinking it is soap
  • People don't know what to do with the product
  • Because of above, the product doesn't sell without samples or my testimony

All 3 of these come down to one common denominator that's not doing it's job.


First, we have a minor but significant (and to me, a little sad) change to the candy bars.

Goodbye, LA neighborhood names. You were overly complicating.

Second, we have the elephant in the room:

 From a small event this Sunday, May 22nd.

From a small event this Sunday, May 22nd.

I think this packaging is beautiful and professional and way way way more high class than Fred's ever was. People are constantly telling me that they love the look at events and fairs. Because of this, I have stubbornly refused to consider the evidence that this packaging is ALL WRONG for marshmallows! I should have known when people grabbed a toothpick to spear a sample mallow and were surprised that it was soft!

Behold, an excerpt from Fred's Marshmallows' Tumblr in 2013!

Everyone who approaching my booth at the Fulton Stall Market asked if my product was soap.

And yet what did I do when designing my new packaging? I chose the same basic elements - heat sealed bag in a clear plastic box with a label. People were telling me my product was soap, and my reaction was "you're dumb, it's marshmallows!" What happened to the customer is always right, Karen? That product IS soap!

My packaging is pretty much the polar opposite of this infamous soap that looks like fruit juice.

Listen to the people, Karen! Do you hear the people sing? They're saying they think your product is SOAP.

I don't have the solution to this yet. I do have outstanding orders for 7 different packaging options (packs of 100 each, Eric is going to kill me - storage space is every dwindling) as well as 5 free samples of further options that come only in packs of 1000 or more. I've been doing extensive research of marshmallow packaging. What do people expect out of a marshmallow? What makes people think "Marshmallow"? I'm looking into ways to prevent staleness while still allowing some air in the bag. I am restricted only by the availability of pre-made packaging. This is the #1 priority.

Other items of note.

  • A wonderful neighbor of mine got Mallow & Hop the hookup to provide some craft services for some of the newer Disney TV shows. A huge boon to my first week of seriously focusing on the business!
  • I've been experimenting with hop candy. 
    • I cut my hand on a piece of candy. That was very silly. It actually bled.
    • Apparently you can't cook barley malt syrup to 300°. Lesson learned. On the bright side, despite what a nightmare it left in cleanup, it made my house smell more like banana bread than burnt sugar.
    • You're gonna totally dig this Pineapple Jalapeño Cascade candy. :)
  • Still entirely anxious about visiting retail establishments with samples, especially those who have had previous experiences trying to sell the soap marshmallows. It's like walking up to people who dumped you and saying "Hey! Take me back! I'm different now!" (To be fair, that's very close to the story of how I bagged the love of my life 5 years after we initially dated. Hey-o.)
  • Yes, I will be trying to make vegan marshmallows this week. In fact, a batch are currently setting on the kitchen counter. So far it seems successful...