Heinz Took Three Years to Develop New Ketchup-Packet Design

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Courtesy of Heinz

Fear the minivan. Its power to change has now struck at the heart of pop culture: American drive-thru lines.

As Heinz unveiled a new design for the messy mini packets of ketchup, the minivan was touted as the company’s main driving force. Dave Ciesinski, Heinz Ketchup vice president, says the top complaint about the tear-open style that launched in 1968 was the lack of options to “dip and eat it on-the-go.”

While doing field research, Heinz watched the habits of minivan passengers and drivers trying to use ketchup packets received in drive-thru lines and even purchased a used minivan to serve as a testing hub during the packet evolution process.

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To combat consumer’s biggest complaint, Heinz spent about three years creating a revolutionary design (okay, that’s probably a bit much) that combines the tear-off-the-end technique with a new open-and-dip style (haven’t we been doing this for decades with those little jelly packets?). The either-or option appeals to all customers, Heinz says.

Ketchup-starved customers can peel back the top for dipping or still squeeze out one of the ends. Plus, the new packet contains three times the previous amount of red goodness.

Smaller restaurant chains, such as Chick-fil-A, have already debuted the packets and Wendy’s will break them out nationally yet this year. According to the Wall Street Journal, McDonald’s is testing them, but only in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis McDonald’s stores.

MORE: Heinz Ketchup Cuts the Salt

Tim Newcomb is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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