The story: Einstein Bros. Bagels has redesigned its bagel bucket with side-loading inserts that creatively showcase its bagels and shmear (cream cheese). The new packaging has increased efficiencies in its stores and helped the bagel chain reduce materials usage. Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions, a division of HAVI Global Solutions LLC and a global leader in packaging solutions with expertise in the quick-service restaurant and foodservice markets, led the effort.

The challenge: Einstein Bros. was rebranding itself and wanted a bagel bucket that reflected the whimsical image of its brand characters. The bagel chain also sought a new design that would allow tubs of shmear to be inserted in its popular Hate to Wait? prepacked buckets of bagels without reopening and closing the buckets. Before the redesign, crew members would open the filled buckets, insert a paper liner on top of the bagels, lay the tubs of shmear on top of the paper and then reclose the buckets — a multi-step process that belied the efficiency implicit in the Hate to Wait? concept.

“We wanted to simplify operations for crew members and make it more convenient for consumers to quickly get their favorite bagels and shmears,” says Tom Guerin, manager of product development, Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions. “We also wanted to highlight the product with a design unlike anything else in the marketplace.”

Guerin and his team spent time in Einstein Bros. stores observing operations and consumer behavior. They interviewed crew members and managers and recorded challenges they witnessed in package assembly, stacking and storage. They noticed that the bucket handle radius was small and seemed uncomfortable, even awkward, for several customers. Perhaps not trusting the packaging’s integrity, many requested a rope-handled paper bag to carry the buckets in, defeating the purpose of the “Grab & Go” bucket design.

“When we saw that the handle could be improved, we were determined to make it happen,” says Guerin.

The design team also reached out to Einstein’s graphics and branding teams and materials suppliers, something Guerin says is crucial to the design process but not always standard practice among design firms: “We take a holistic approach to package design and bring all of the stakeholder perspectives, our observations, discoveries and the context in which we’re designing — in this case a major rebranding campaign — to the table.”

“Packaging has many touch points,” Guerin adds. “Doing the research upfront and working in partnership across functions will lead to optimal design creation and deliver the most value to brand owners.”

The solution: Einstein’s redesigned bagel bucket features two unique built-in side-loading inserts that can each hold a tub of shmear. Crew members are able to quickly drop the tubs into the inserts without having to open and close the bucket. This convenience also eliminates the paper liner that used to separate the shmear and bagels.

Tapered sidewall contours allow the pre-erected bucket to nest and stack for greater space savings at restaurant prep areas, and auto-bottom and intuitive closing features enhance crew efficiencies. A redesigned, interlocking handle is more ergonomic for customers to hold and carry securely.

The design team proposed uncoated natural kraft as the substrate based on its renewability, natural unbleached appearance and printability characteristics. The look also fits within the brand and further promotes the fresh baked goods inside.

“We worked closely with Einstein’s graphic designers to understand the look and feel of the logo and how that translates onto the packaging in terms of die cuts,” says Guerin.

The redesigned bucket is more eye-catching as the unique side inserts showcase the shmears, improving the overall value perception of the product. The bucket also aligns with the Einstein Bros. brand image and forms a family with the rest of the brand’s packaging. 

“Together, the graphics, structure and natural kraft material really bring the characters to life and convey the whimsicality of the brand,” adds Guerin.

The redesign helped Einstein reduce the overall carbon footprint of its product by designing the bucket to ship flat for greater transportation efficiencies. The bucket also is made from 100 percent renewable materials, is 100 percent recyclable and facilitated the elimination of an additional packaging SKU (the paper liner), as well as the need for the handled paper bags customers often asked for to carry the previous design.