Research

Ask (interviews)

While doing research to explore more into kids snacking, and more specifically no-spill packaging, I was tasked to interview 3 people. Here are profiles of the people I interviewed and what I took away from each person I spoke with:

Colten

Colten is the younger brother of one of my friends Collin. He is 12 years old and enjoys all kinds of snacks that kids his age eat on a regular basis. I figured Colten was as good a kid as any to interview to see how kids his age approach snacking. Over the course of the interview, Colten told me about some of his go-to snacks when he gets home from school and why he chooses the snacks that he does. He also talks about his experience between choosing to eat brand name foods as opposed to non-brand name foods and how choosing one or the other may impact his social image between his peers. He also mentions about food packaging and how a more appealing package seems to draw him to a product. This was a very interesting interview to see how a kid his age views snacking. Below are a few questions I asked Colten along with some key quotes that he mentioned:

Questions
  • Tell me about the last time you ate a snack.
  • Other than taste, why do you choose the snacks that you choose?
  • What is your favorite snack and why?
  • Tell me about an experience you had with a snack spilling.
Key Quotes
  • “[…] when you are opening up a bag of Doritos and you sometimes need to pull it really hard, the chips sometimes fly everywhere.”
  • “I don’t spill Gatorade bottles as much as I spill soda cans.”
  • “I try to avoid things that are seasoned when I am playing video games, because the flavoring always gets everywhere and mucks up the controllers.”
Jamie

Jamie is the mother of Colten, the boy I first interviewed. Not only has she been around snacks when she is buying them for her boys, but she also worked at an elementary school working with 4–6 year olds as a classroom assistant back in her home state of Pennsylvania. At this school, she would often organize the daily snacks for the children and also organize a few fun games that involved their snacks for the day. This sort of insight in the snacking world plus the fact that she worked with younger children that would often spill their food was the perfect insight that I needed for this assignment. During the interview, Jamie walked me through some scenarios that she encountered while working with the kids and mentioned how the kids would play with their food in many different ways. She also talked a little about her experience with purchasing food for her boys and what she looks for in some of the new foods that she is looking to try and bring home. Along with a few other points that she hit on, Jamie gave me a lot of good insight to kids snacking from a grown-ups perspective. Below are a few questions I asked along with some key quotes that she mentioned during her interview:

Questions
  • Walk me through how you would prepare a snack/lunch for school for your boys.
  • What is your biggest issue with snacking in your house and why?
  • What are you looking for in snacks when shopping for your kids at the grocery store?
  • Tell me about an experience you had with a snack spilling.
Key Quotes
  • “When I would try to get my kids to eat the apples, I would stick some peanut butter on the end of it […] it makes things a little more creative and promotes independency”
  • “Anything that had [the kids] put the food together hands-on, really promoted creativity and allowed them to learn.”
  • “Sometimes with the threaded sealers it doesn’t get completely closed, so when I go to grab it out of the pantry all the stuff in the bag goes flying everywhere.”
Jenna

Jenna is one of my friends from high school that is looking to become an elementary school teacher. Over the summer, she decided to work as a camp counselor for nearly a month at a youth camp in northern Minnesota. At this camp she worked closely with many young children, more specifically she monitored kindergarten lunch time along with the snack time for third graders. From this experience and coming from someone of similar age to myself, I was intrigued to see her take on kids snacking and how she saw some snacks were being spilled. During the interview Jenna spoke a lot about her experience with the kids at camp and how they handled snacking. She mentioned how a lot of kids often went for a sugary option when it was available. She also talked about how many kids have a hard time opening things like chip bags because they often go everywhere when the kids try and pull on the seal. Jenna also spoke briefly about her personal experience with snacking and situations where she too had spilled her snack. This was very interesting to see her side of this theme, and below are a few questions and key quotes that came up during the interview:

Questions
  • Walk me through a typical experience you would have while watching over these younger children eating.
  • Tell me about a time you had to eat a snack on the go.
  • What are you looking for in snacks when shopping for kids at the grocery store?
  • Tell me about an experience you had with a snack spilling.
Key Quotes
  • “A lot of the kids would not have the fine motor skills to be able to open things like milk cartons, bags of chips, and other stuff like that.”
  • “I was running on the treadmill at the gym and felt really embarrassed when my water bottle spilt all over me when I went to take a drink from it.”
  • “Twisting is easy for these young kids.”

Observation

For my observation of snacking and my theme of no-spill packaging, I decided to put my roommate to the test. I put him in a scenario where I told him to pack a lunch for an elementary schooler that is going to have to eat that lunch on a long bus ride. With this prompt, I was hoping to have him consider ways of packing his food so that the child would not be spilling the contents of the lunch all over the bus.

Once I gave him this prompt, he figured the best thing that a kid could eat in that situation is a sandwich. Quick, easy, and normally doesn’t end up all over your lap. He figured that it probably would be smart not to really pack in the meat and cheese too much, because then spillage could become an issue. Once he made his sandwich, it was interesting to see him go straight for the firm tupperware in the kitchen. His thinking was that this would be the most effective way to package it considering it would probably end up in the bottom of a backpack with books and supplies laying on top of it. This was a very interesting discovery to me.

After he had finished packaging his sandwich, he looked at supplemental options to his main course. He raided the kitchen some more and stumbled across an apple. He figured it would be a good fruit source and healthy option for the kid. However, he did express a concern about it potentially getting bruised while in a backpack. He decided that if he had it available, he would place the apple in a hard shelled lunchbox to avoid this. He then looked for more supplements to the meal. He noticed that Goldfish were at his disposal and decided to include them in the meal by packing them in a ziplock bag. He said that the bag would contain the crumbs very well. He mentioned how the threaded ziplock baggie were not his first choice and that he prefers the slide lock bags instead. However these types of bags were not available at the time. He also voiced his concern of the Goldfish getting crushed and possibly leaking out of the bag. He also decided he would place them in the lunchbox if he had one. Lastly, he came to the drink. He thought about including a soda as a sugary snack option, but re-thought that idea. He figured the inability to seal the soda again would be a major point of concern if the kid would be riding on a bumpy bus ride. Considering that, he opted for a Gatorade because of its easy cap that allows for the drink to be resealed. He also noted how the bottle has a very hard exterior that would allow it to not be crushed. It was very interesting to see the decisions that my roommate went into when he was deciding how to package this lunch. This observation has given me a lot of good insight into kids snacking and no-spill packaging.

Experience

Being a broke college student, I opted for more of an observational experience to take a look at kids snacking and my theme of no-spill packaging. I took a quick car ride over to my local Target and began to scan the aisles in their grocery section on the look out for products related to my theme. I first stumbled across the baggie aisle, where it seemed like near all types of close-seal baggies could be found. It was very interesting to see the variety of bags, however most notably I found a lot more of the baggies that had the zip across packaging. This was a very interesting discovery.

As I moved farther across the aisles, I came across a small section that had plastic bottles. I picked up a few of them to get a true feel of what they have to offer. As one can see in the picture here to my left, I picked up a pretty standard water bottle that someone might find in a kids lunchbox. Upon further inspection, I noticed one thing in particular — it was very hard to actually push down the top straw all the way. This got me thinking about if I thought it was hard to do, I’m sure a younger kid would agree with me. Having a lid that is hard to close seems to be defeating the purpose of the bottle. If it isn’t closed all the way, the liquid inside is going to spill out.

Also while cruising the isles of the water bottle, I came across this really cool idea. It was a water bottle that acted like a pop can. The way it worked was that the fake pop lid could be pushed back, thus opening the lid area that would then allow your liquid to come out. I felt that giving a younger person this sort of water bottle would increase the likelihood of them to close it because it was such a unique design. However, this bottle had a similar issue — it was very hard to close. Ease to close something like this, whether its a liquid or a sold, is something that I feel is very important to focus on when attempting to design a product that reduces spillage.

Storyboard

Below is my attached storyboard. I chose to document my experience when I went to Target and browsed the aisles for things related to my theme. I documented the baggies that I saw, the drink bottles, and even the food that was packaged in a very unique way.

Major Insights

From my interviews, observations, and experiences, I was able to come up with a list of 10 major insights into kids snacking and my theme of no-spill packaging. Here is a list of these insights:

  1. Spilling food and drinks is embarrassing and makes you feel clumsy (Jenna interview)
  2. Sealed packages are sometimes hard to open (Colten interview)
  3. Pinch-sealed baggies often are a pain to actually seal all the way and often lead to spilling food (Jamie interview)
  4. Some young adults do pick their snacks based on whether or not they are name brand (Colten interview)
  5. Traditional no-spill bottles are cumbersome to close (Experience)
  6. Many baggies intended for heavy duty storage utilize the slide seal baggies (Experience)
  7. Combinations of foods often make it easier for younger children to eat healthier foods (Jamie interview)
  8. Hard plastic containers are best used in on-the-go situations to avoid the food inside from being smashed (Observation)
  9. Twisting caps is easier for kids to open (Jenna interview)
  10. Wide opening bottles are prone for spilling liquids (Jenna interview)

Problem Statements

Based on the insights that were discovered from these processes, I was able to come up with three problem statements related to kids snacking and my theme of no-spill packaging. Here are my three statements:

  1. Kids need a way to open their sealed bags because often times it is too difficult to open and results in spilling the contents of the bag.
  2. Parents and kids need packages that can easily identified as sealed because often it’s unknown if the package is completely closed and can result in spilling.
  3. Kids need a way to assure that their food or drink will get into their mouths because spilling food on their clothes can be embarrassing.
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