Reduce, Reuse, Burrito
When I first started at this company, about a year and a half ago, one of my first responsibilities was to answer our customer's product questions. It's smart training - we have over 700 reusables and answering upwards of 50 questions about them per day is the best way to learn about each and every one of them.
For the most part, I was helping people find the right size lunch bag or troubleshooting a squeaky sport cap - until one day when I received a long, thoughtful inquiry about what reusable we would recommend to transport and re-heat burritos.
The next day the person responded and stated that his burritos tended to be messy and he needed something that would keep his bag from getting all messy. Would a Wrap-N-Mat work? Well, a Wrap-N-Mat would work, but you can't microwave them. (We'd already established that his workplace did not provide plates or a place to wash them.) I finally ended up suggested a microwave-safe plastic container and I believe he was happy with his new burrito containment unit.
A few months later, I got another question asking for burrito wrap/heating suggestions. With the previous experience under my belt, I sent a few ideas - some for messy burritos and others for neater burritos. I believe that person ended up using organic cotton napkins, which are great because you can use them as a wrap, heat the burrito up inside them, and then clean up with them when you're done.
About a month after that I got two more burrito questions in one week. At this point, my co-worker Belinda and I renamed our department ReusableBurritos.com and came up with an array of imaginary products including reusable tortilla chips (why waste chips?) and reusable taco shells (made from BPA-free, food-safe silicone.)
I made it my mission to find a burrito solution for our customers. I started sketching up ideas for a burrito wrap with a pocket on one side to hold one end of the burrito, and then built-in ties so you could wrap the whole thing up and tie it neatly. I called it the Burrito Kimono.
After another inquiry from a cab driver who wanted something that would keep his breakfast burrito warm while he drove around I realized this thing was way too big for me to tackle by myself.
I felt encouraged by a recent sample we received - an reusable cloth bag meant for heating up frozen items in the microwave. In fact, I just finished eating a vegetarian black bean burrito that I heated up in this bag. I have yet to compile my report for our next new product meeting, but at least there are other people out there considering the current frozen burrito crisis we have on our hands.
I think the best advice I got was from our company founder's wife, Marni, who said, "Burritos are better out of the toaster oven anyway."
In closing, I still recommend using a napkin and a dash of water to heat a frozen burrito but that doesn't mean I'm not still looking for another solution. If you have an idea, please leave a comment and let us know! As you can see, we take all of our customer's concerns seriously - even if it means 18 months of burrito-related research and development.