It’s quite the challenge to make hard-boiled eggs look sexy. Yes, they are a satisfying, delicious source of protein, but the slightly embarrassing procedure of scooping your hard-boiled egg from your damp Ziploc bag, tapping it loudly on your desk, cracking and peeling off the slimy pieces of shell, and then looking up to notice your very judgmental colleague witnessing the spectacle in silence, well, that’s a traumatizing enough experience to never want to engage in hard-boiled-egg consumption in public again.
Experience aside, the hard-boiled egg fits the bill for what consumers across dietary tribes are looking for in snacking right now: low-calorie, low-carb, low-sodium, high-nutrition, high-protein, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo and keto-friendly, vegetarian – basically, all the magic words. In addition, eggs are a $5 billion category, currently gaining serious consumer traction: consumption has been the highest it’s been in nearly 40 years, with consumers eating more than 274 eggs per year on average in the U.S. in 2018, according to Statista.
So don’t you wish eggs could be a better portable experience? That was the question asked by Jon Sebastiani, founder and CEO of food incubator and investor Sonoma Brands, when he introduced PECKISH Peck Packs, a portable protein snack company on a mission to “hero” the egg with a more enjoyable, streamlined, ready-to-eat snacking experience. The packs are a welcome disruption and revitalization to the hard-boiled egg shelf, which is a largely untapped $200 million sub-category.
“Eggs are nature’s perfect protein and PECKISH is a brand that…has truly leaned into clean, portable, protein snacking. As consumers continue to move away from seated meals, and embrace all-day snacking, we see a void in brands that deliver on flavor, nutrition and portability,” Sebastiani says. Sebastiani is aiming to do for the egg what he did for meat at his previous company, Krave Jerky, which sold for $220 million to the Hershey Company in 2015.
Each Peck Pack opens into a delightful cardboard tray, and contains two tidily-packed, perfectly boiled organic free-range eggs with a side of crunchy flavorful dip. Flavors include Everything, Fried Rice, Rancheros, Maple Waffles, and Salt & Pepitas.
So what were the main factors behind making this little pack of protein magic?
Commercializing the “Perfect Boil”
There is an art to the perfectly boiled egg, and Peckish has dedicated many resources to mastering this art in the name of elevated eating experience. Peckish has differentiated itself in the snack space by being the first U.S. company to commercialize a boil method for their organic eggs and achieve what they have trademarked as the “Perfectly Boiled Egg.” Although it’s not a proprietary process, Peckish has an agreement with the nation’s largest producer of hard cooked eggs to use the technology for the near future.
A successful foray into the making of the perfect hardboiled egg depends on factors like egg size, down-to-the-second boil time, seasoning of boiled water, post-boil treatment, and more. Process is key.
And while consumers might not know exactly what makes a perfect hard-boiled egg, they certainly have a preexisting understanding of what makes a bad one: rubbery outside, crumbly inside, sulfur-smelling grey center. Unfortunately, most of the hard-boiled eggs on the market right now reinforce that notion, leaving a bad taste in consumers’ mouths.
“Having spent years searching for a hard-boiled egg that didn’t smell bad or have a grey center, I had a first-hand understanding of the negative stigma associated with boiled eggs purchased at retail,” says Sebastiani.
Unlike what’s on shelves right now, Peckish eggs have a very specific and highly refined boil process that results in a creamy texture, with a medium boil center.
“Every PECKISH egg has a golden yellow yolk, never dense, never smelly. By individually wrapping PECKISH eggs, we have created a more appetizing packaging system, with less liquid in each pack,” Sebastiani says.
The boil method, the quality of the egg, the tidy product presentation and portable packaging are extremely intentional and backed by a rigorous R&D process, all pushing towards the larger goal of disrupting a stale space and changing how consumers see the hard-boiled egg in the marketplace today.
Crunchy Dips: An Eggcellent Accessory
Peckish has not only aimed to change how consumers see the hard-boiled egg: they also are on a mission to make the new experience a precise balance of fun, unexpected, and indulgent, while still being nutritious and clean.
“The crispy, crunchy, flavorful dips that we have paired with the eggs allow an element of permissible indulgence with the brand. We wanted to create a snack that not only feels good, but also tastes good,” says Sebastiani. “Where else can you find guilt-free maple waffles or fried rice? Everybody loves a good crunch when they snack!”
The crispy dip accessory in the peck packs serves as a key differentiator from other hard-boiled egg products, and reinforce the vision for a more playful and pleasurable interaction between consumers and peck packs. The fixed consumer needs for flavor, fun, high-nutrition, and portability is a tough void to fill, but Sebastiani believes Peckish has done just that. “By perfectly boiling eggs and pairing them in Peck-Packs with crispy, crunchy, flavorful dips, we believe PECKISH has filled that void, providing a healthy, on-the-go protein snack option.
The Early Bird
Sonoma Brands is well-known for working with brands like Smashmellow and Zupa Noma, brands that can quickly scale, and reach far and wide to different diet tribes as well as the mainstream consumer. They also work with brands that are fun, quirky even, and millenial-minded, that change the way you might think of a boring category.
In the recent past, Sebastiani has spoken to key lessons learned from expanding too quickly. For Peckish, Sonoma Brands aims to be disciplined, balanced, and thoughtful as they grow the brand, especially given that this product is refrigerated, where lack of sales equals loss of product.
“As with all of the brands we have launched, we remain perfectly curious as we build, launch and enter retail. Our team is not afraid to admit failure, or the need to pivot,” Sebastiani says. “Our ability to pivot quickly allows us to truly listen to and build a relationship with our consumers and gives us a competitive edge over larger brands saddled with layers of corporate bureaucracy.”
Sales metrics like repeat purchasing will guide the extent of Sonoma’s investment in Peckish. When the brand truly begins to take flight, the investment team is gung-ho about supplying additional capital. So now, it’s all about building out the vision and connecting with consumers in unique ways, in their daily lives.
“We are working with Equinox and Barry’s Bootcamp – where the sophistication of the consumer is high and the loyalty of that consumer (if you meet their need) is incredibly sticky – they become our best brand ambassadors,” Sebastiani says. “Our strategic retail roll-out and nation-wide DTC launch are both aiding tremendously in expanding brand awareness and allowing our team to study and learn about the ways in which the consumer interacts with the brand.”
Needless to say, we are all very EGGcited to get more clean, nutritious, portable protein options from Peckish!