"Of course, Brandless is a brand"
July 15, 2017 9:31 AM   Subscribe

At 4 days old, Brandless sells household products in minimalist packaging online for $3 or less. It has industry veterans at the helm who see the opportunity to disrupt the market and $50 million from willing investors. How do you brand "brandless"? You start by trademarking a white box listing its descriptors like organic, non-GMO, no added sugar, no artificial preservatives, and gluten free.

Meanwhile, for those looking for a hot take: Jezebel asks "Why Does This No-Brand Brand Creep Me Out So Much?"
posted by Chipeaux (107 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Put it on a plate, son. You'll enjoy it more.
posted by escabeche at 9:34 AM on July 15 [42 favorites]


"I know what all the marketing people are thinking right now too, 'Oh, you know what [Brandless is] doing, [it's] going for that anti-marketing dollar. That’s a good market, [it's] very smart.'"
posted by jedicus at 9:38 AM on July 15 [31 favorites]


I see a trade dress dispute with RXBAR on the horizon.
posted by rhizome at 9:39 AM on July 15


Shades of those stupid no-brand-branded shoes we were all meant to buy fifteen years ago to establish our "culture-jammer" street cred.
posted by sonascope at 9:40 AM on July 15 [13 favorites]


What, so it's this xkcd comic?
posted by jcreigh at 9:40 AM on July 15 [26 favorites]


The brands that make it are the brands that get their marketing at any site. Get it at Forbes, get it at Jezebel. That's why there ain't a brand I know that don't take speed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:41 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


just wait, the store's gonna be full of nothing but generic white label brandless knockoffs
posted by idiopath at 9:47 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


MUJI beat them to the punch by, oh, 30 years. 無印良品 literally means "unbranded goods," and they've always used plain cardstock packaging.
posted by adamrice at 9:48 AM on July 15 [59 favorites]


I've always been impressed by the quality of consumer products produced by the dharma initiative.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:49 AM on July 15 [20 favorites]


I, for one, would greatly enjoy a box of DHARMA INITIATIVE CEREAL and CHOCOLATE BAR

Upon preview: jinx midmarch snowman
posted by littlesq at 9:49 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


That's bullshit. You're a white suburban brand just like me.
posted by Nelson at 9:49 AM on July 15 [15 favorites]


No flouride in the toothpaste. That automatically discredits them in my eyes.
posted by Ampersand692 at 9:50 AM on July 15 [21 favorites]


Or, you know, Canada

The branding thing is of course, a gimmick. The real thing is the all 3$ price point.

(I assume there is no oversight in labeling things organic or gluten free so that's fun)
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 AM on July 15 [16 favorites]


I was expecting a little less design, honestly. But those are actually quite carefully designed, right down to the not helvetica, not arial font choice. (On their website they are using the "Neutral" typeface, and I assume that carries through to everything). It's very much the tacky bland minimalism that everyone seems to love nowadays, IMO.
posted by surlyben at 9:58 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Of course a store that sells one kind of everything with minimal packaging and a fixed price point that's heavily subsided.

Now what does (eye twitch) that sound like, to you?

Keep asking for nationalized co-ops like, in a ha ha kidding way not a give me that in private enterprise first way.

(It will fail because it won't be able to make an obscene amount of return on investment, things that just make livable or modest returns are no importance to the VC class)
posted by The Whelk at 9:58 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


Flashbacks to the scene in Repo Man where they go into the convenience store stocked with all Ralph's brand generic goods.
posted by subdee at 10:05 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


So... should I buy this stuff or not? I can't figure out what the hell the consensus is here.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:06 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


The life of a repo man is always intense.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:07 AM on July 15 [16 favorites]


With the twist being that Ralph's actually marketed their generic-brand goods.
posted by subdee at 10:08 AM on July 15


USD$3 for 20 teabags? Get stuffed. The design is pretty weakass, too. Not a patch on classic No Name.
posted by maudlin at 10:08 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


All I can think of is the white cans of BEER scattered around the tragic crash scene in the D.A.R.E. propaganda the sheriff's deputy brought in when we were in the 5th grade.
posted by brennen at 10:11 AM on July 15 [16 favorites]


The generic stuff mom used to get from the food pantry in the 80s had a similar black and white design. Instead of Cheerios, you had "OAT LOOPS" and they tasted like cardboard mixed with sawdust.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:12 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


When I was growing up in the 70s, there appeared in stores an entire aisle that was nothing but discount products in white packaging with minimal labelling. Beer was just BEER, canned beans were BEANS, toilet paper was TOILET PAPER.

THIS IS NOT A NEW IDEA.
posted by hippybear at 10:12 AM on July 15 [63 favorites]


You can get like, 100 Newmans Own teabags for 4$ on another bulk site, it's not appreciatively bigger than a big of ten, and it's not like it's targeting people who don't have access to online shopping.

So, this milquetoast "oh we've changed the overhead from 5,000% to 1,000% on some products" is sub-GOOP nonsense for people trying to smooth out their downward mobility.
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on July 15 [18 favorites]


I was fascinated by Kroger's "Value" brand, back before they tried to humanize it by splitting it into the "p$$t", "check this out", and "Heritage Farms" subbrands, because it was aggressively bland, playing into a perception that anything so relentlessly generic had to be a great buy. I reckoned that even the bilingual Spanish label played a (lightly racist) role in their presentation as a low-cost, spartan choice.

So the idea that savvy shoppers choose "nobrand" (not just "house brand") isn't that novel.
posted by jackbishop at 10:14 AM on July 15


Repo Man is real.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:16 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


The generic stuff mom used to get from the food pantry in the 80s had a similar black and white design. Instead of Cheerios, you had "OAT LOOPS" and they tasted like cardboard mixed with sawdust.

Oh. You mean, like, regular Cheerios?
posted by 2N2222 at 10:20 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


Perhaps a way to be genuinely brandless would be to specify a bunch of criteria and then let a computer optimize for cost and order the cheapest satisfying product. Like, "chunky peanut butter, no high fructose corn syrup, user average taste rating at least 2.0/5.0, unexpired".
posted by Pyry at 10:22 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this seems like nothing special given how long No Name products have been a thing in Canada. Some No-Name products are really good. Some of them are really shitty. Just like other products.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:25 AM on July 15




What about "No-Ad" products, where do they fit in to all this?
posted by aka burlap at 10:27 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Once, at my store, someone one sold us a generic book. It had a plain white paperback cover with the word "Western," (iirc, it could've been "Romance") in black block lettering.
posted by jonmc at 10:35 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


A few images of No Frills books here. From a 9 year old Ask, which features a dead link best answer.
posted by hippybear at 10:42 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


adamrice: MUJI beat them to the punch by, oh, 30 years. 無印良品 literally means "unbranded goods," and they've always used plain cardstock packaging.

And they will sell you anything from a ballpoint pen to a one-room hut.
posted by sukeban at 10:46 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]




"Of course, Brandless is a brand as well..." is one of those gotcha statements that people say at parties to appear wise and clever, as if this nugget had never occurred to anyone before, and nobody says "yeah, no shit Sherlock" because it's just too exhausting to even get into.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:50 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


Also if Brandless would make a watch without a logo on the face I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:51 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Pretty decent (1) markup (2). I'd throw a few VC bucks at this time-tested model of barfing a design layer onto toxic, exploitative Ali-junk.
posted by milquetoast at 10:53 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


PIL!
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:56 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Now what does (eye twitch) that sound like, to you?


DFAS.

Looking at their prices, they're still more expensive than the worker's collective down the street.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:57 AM on July 15


I always liked the labels on the '80s generics. "This product may vary in color and consistency. It is wholesome and suitable for everyday use." Best peanut butter and worst toothpaste ever.
posted by darksasami at 10:58 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


No flouride in the toothpaste. That automatically discredits them in my eyes.

why? you wanna sap and impurify your precious bodily fluids?
posted by indubitable at 10:59 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


Yeah, this seems like nothing special given how long No Name products have been a thing in Canada. Some No-Name products are really good. Some of them are really shitty. Just like other products.

I'd just add that the Brandless stuff has way chattier labelling that makes it seem almost desperate when compared to No Name stuff, which usually features one-and-done labelling, like so:

Mayonnaise.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:09 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


After the era of black-on-white generic branded came store brand generics. Including the appallingly named Scotch Buy brand. A few images here.
posted by hippybear at 11:14 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


“I think we really wanted to be conscious from the start about not being insincere. Of course Brandless is a brand,” says Emily Heyward, a partner at New York-based branding agency Red Antler, which designed Brandless’s packaging and identity. “We didn’t want that to ring false because that’s against the company’s philosophy.”
This feels like gaslighting.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 11:18 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


Guys? $3 ACV? I'm in. And I got some dish soap and hand soap. If it sucks, I'm out $12.
posted by moons in june at 11:22 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


This feels like gaslighting.

Haha yeah, there's nothing that pisses me off so much as mayonnaise with insincere packaging.
posted by rhizome at 11:27 AM on July 15 [12 favorites]


Well I hope the coffee pods they sell are recyclable. *&^%@#$ coffee pods.
posted by New England Cultist at 11:36 AM on July 15


Haha yeah, there's nothing that pisses me off so much as mayonnaise with insincere packaging.

God, remember those Miracle Whip ads that were all like, "WE are Miracle Whip and WE will not let our voice be stifled by The Man!"
posted by Copronymus at 11:36 AM on July 15


It's worked for modern movie screenplays, I don't see why it won't work here too.
posted by fairmettle at 11:37 AM on July 15



Generic Internet Article


I was really disappointed that was a real article and not something generated by Thinkpiece Bot.
posted by AFABulous at 11:38 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


when I was a kid, I always wanted to give Brand X a try, just once. I saw Kroger's Cost Cutter all the time but I never saw Brand X.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:40 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Miracle Whip is NOT mayonnaise.
posted by hippybear at 11:40 AM on July 15 [13 favorites]


when I was a kid, I always wanted to give Brand X a try, just once. I saw Kroger's Cost Cutter all the time but I never saw Brand X.

Were you looking the Music section?
posted by hippybear at 11:41 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


When I was growing up in the 70s, there appeared in stores an entire aisle that was nothing but discount products in white packaging with minimal labelling. Beer was just BEER, canned beans were BEANS, toilet paper was TOILET PAPER.

The "BEER" was really Iron City.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:43 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Miracle Whip is NOT mayonnaise.

I always thought it was Miracle Hwip.
posted by Talez at 11:46 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


when I was a kid, I always wanted to give Brand X a try, just once. I saw Kroger's Cost Cutter all the time but I never saw Brand X.

I saw a documentary suggesting that that's for the best.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:56 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


We use only NIST-branded products in our house.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 12:16 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Nope, not creepy at all.
posted by killdevil at 12:17 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I actually like Miracle Whip.
posted by jonmc at 12:19 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


We use only NIST-branded products in our house.

SRM 1548a - Typical Diet

What the fuck.

(Like, seriously, someone explain this to me.)
posted by jcreigh at 12:34 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


Miracle Whip has specific uses. Mayo has a broader base of uses. I keep both in my house.
posted by hippybear at 12:38 PM on July 15


There are similar brands in most european grocery stores for the past 30 years. It's a good trend, especially the low packaging one.
posted by fshgrl at 1:00 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I'm a sucker for anything approaching CPUs (Cayce Pollard Units)....so ordered a few things that looked reasonable value......will report back in 2-4 days subject to shipping
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:01 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I was fascinated by Kroger's "Value" brand, back before they tried to humanize it by splitting it into the "p$$t", "check this out", and "Heritage Farms" subbrands,

A few days ago my son yelled from the kitchen "Dad, where's the pissed jelly?" He had to repeat that several times before I realized he meant the p$$t grape jelly we bought at Kroger. (Not worth the savings, by the way. For jelly, we're going back to name brands.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:03 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


"Of course, Brandless is a brand as well..." is one of those gotcha statements that people say at parties to appear wise and clever, as if this nugget had never occurred to anyone before, and nobody says "yeah, no shit Sherlock"

Next can we do the realization that every realization is new to somebody at some point, so we don't have to worry about whether someone is saying it to appear wise and clever? If y'all have gotten there way before me, it's OK if you roll your eyes a little.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:04 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


SRM 1548a - Typical Diet

What the fuck.

(Like, seriously, someone explain this to me.)


The MSDS sheet [pdf] has some explanatory notes:
Description: This SRM is intended primarily for use in validating analytical methods for the determination of proximate content and minor and trace constituent elements in mixed diets and food matrices. The base material used for SRM 1548a originated from food menus used for metabolic studies performed at the USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center. SRM 1548a is a blended freeze-dried homogenate of these menus. This SRM may also be used for quality assurance when assigning values to in-house control materials. A unit of SRM 1548a consists of two bottles, each containing approximately 6.5 g of the freeze-dried homogenate of mixed diet foods.
It also notes that "SRM 1548A IS FOR RESEARCH USE; NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION", which is just as well since that 13g of freeze-dried homogenate will cost you $1071, easily making it more expensive than saffron or beluga caviar by weight.
posted by jedicus at 1:15 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


I'm assuming that this little startup didn't formulate and produce such a wide variety of products, so they must have found existing sources. Existing sources that are probably already supplying other brands that have existing distribution channels, and are probably easily available to most of us already. Without specific knowledge about where they get their products and who else is reselling the same things, I can't 100% say theirs are more expensive than the identical products, but I do know that I can find cheaper versions of everything I've looked at on their site so far, most available in brick and mortar stores nearby, so you wouldn't have to pay and wait for shipping. (And I do not have an Ikea nearby and have never been to one, but I know they have a lot of this stuff too.)

I'm just not seeing anything they offer other than the brand.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:04 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


love to put my red dot shoes up on the couch and flip through a dog eared copy of cory doctorow's "for the win", for the win
posted by liliillliil at 2:44 PM on July 15


After reading this thread, my only Takeaway is a mild interest in the idea of GOAT LOOPS, the mysterious process in which you get to the end of the goat only to begin again at the start, eternally.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:57 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this seems like nothing special given how long No Name products have been a thing in Canada.

I just want to add that the No-Name brand in Canada was the work of designer Don Watt. He created the design in the 80's and it persists, relatively unchanged, today. So yeah, what's old is new again.
posted by Kabanos at 3:03 PM on July 15


Yeah, this mostly looks like unbranded stuff from dollar tree with a markup.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 3:17 PM on July 15


I'm kind of a sucker, and, when I go to the grocery store, I usually impulse-buy at least one stupid thing.

Sooo.... check back with me in a while to see how I like my hand soap, dijon mustard, and quinoa puffs.

(I am not, however, enough of a sucker for a $3 chef's knife.)
posted by box at 3:21 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


> Beer was just BEER, canned beans were BEANS, toilet paper was TOILET PAPER

And the POTATO CHIPS were freakishly delicious, like Lay's but even better.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:22 PM on July 15


And the POTATO CHIPS were freakishly delicious, like Lay's but even better.

Hell yeah they were. I grew up on those things.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:59 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming that this little startup didn't formulate and produce such a wide variety of products, so they must have found existing sources. Existing sources that are probably already supplying other brands that have existing distribution channels, and are probably easily available to most of us already.
I N N O V A T I O N

[throws fistfuls of VC cash everywhere]
posted by indubitable at 5:15 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of irritated that I can't find images of the no-brand packaging I remember from the 70s/80s, which was a serifed all-caps label on a white box that had two red (?) stripes running across it diagonally.
posted by praemunire at 6:01 PM on July 15


This does seem like a more expensive dollar store/pound shop that middle class people can congratulate themselves for using. Even were it available to me, I'd be inclined to stick to Wilko...
posted by howfar at 6:23 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Yay! Just like when I was a kid and our cart was filled with generic food and durable goods bought with S&H green stamps. Sorry kids but this concept is far from new. However, it does bring back wonderful memories of brutal poverty. Good times.
posted by Muncle at 7:53 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Food Lion's store brand is called Cha-ching! which I find much more evocative than brandless.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:54 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


SRM 1548a is a blended freeze-dried homogenate of these menus

'ow would you like it served? All mixed up together in a bucket?
posted by flabdablet at 8:35 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Ah, if you look at the item on the far left of this ad, the no-brand branding I remember. I guess it was specific to Farmer Jack.
posted by praemunire at 9:16 PM on July 15


Description: This SRM is intended primarily for use in validating analytical methods for the determination of proximate content and minor and trace constituent elements in mixed diets and food matrices. The base material used for SRM 1548a originated from food menus used for metabolic studies performed at the USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center. SRM 1548a is a blended freeze-dried homogenate of these menus. This SRM may also be used for quality assurance when assigning values to in-house control materials. A unit of SRM 1548a consists of two bottles, each containing approximately 6.5 g of the freeze-dried homogenate of mixed diet foods.

... I give up. Euclid or Keter?
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:59 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


It's fitting that this website's typeface was designed to be the "platonic ideal" of sans-serif typefaces. IIRC, the designer averaged a bunch of typefaces together to make the most plain-looking average-looking shapes possible.
posted by rlio at 12:09 AM on July 16


This is flim flam. Tesco and Quinnsworth ih th the UK and Ireland did this in thevearly 80s, more or less.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:33 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


      ___________
     /          /|
   /          /  |
  +----------+   |
  |          |   |
  |   FOOD   |  /
  |          |/
  +----------+

posted by D.C. at 2:53 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


I came here for Repo Man and was not disappointed.
posted by chavenet at 3:20 AM on July 16



I actually like Miracle Whip.


Sorry about your childhood. Life gets better.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:01 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


A quick glance in my pantry shows I've got No Name chick peas, No Name macaroni, and No Name sandwich bags. And No Name is a registered trademark. Not sure they've ever tried to register yellow or the rest of the trade dress.

There are pictures on them. (Illustration on the sandwich bags, photos on the other two) though they appear on close inspection to be printed with the two colours of ink the packaging already used. (yellow and black)

So what's different here is Brandless is trying to eschew retail stores and sell only online. I would have kind of expected something like this to tie in a home management / cooking app or something. Like, the genericness of the trade dress represents the reduced cognitive load, like they mail you what you need to make one meal, or you use their app to keep track of what's in your pantry and they mail you replacements when you're running low. Or at least something like the Tide button, but maybe with a scanner, so when you're running low on any product, you scan it and it orders a replacement.

But instead of that, they seem to be angling for upscale No Name. Like, your home is too classy to have brands in it, with their garish colours everywhere. So white background instead of yellow like No Name. Upscale also doesn't work on retail shelves. You're supposed to notice the generic next to the big brand and go, "Well this is 40 cents cheaper, so maybe I'll try it." Ordering online demands a level of brand loyalty you don't usually get with generics.
posted by RobotHero at 7:45 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Food Lion's store brand is called Cha-ching! which I find much more evocative than brandless.

"We tested a number of other names with our focus groups. 'Boo-Ya!' didn't score nearly as well - one participant said something about feeling 'yelled at' by the toilet paper packaging we presented them with. Moreover, most participants seemed to prefer the onomatopoeic sense of saving money that 'Cha-ching!' conveyed."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:13 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Sorry about your childhood. Life gets better.

Heh. I actually didn't try it till I was an adult. My wife grew up a big fan.
posted by jonmc at 8:27 AM on July 16


Yeah we totally already had this in the 70s/80s as other people have already remarked. So I forget how trademark law works ... can any of the people who did this mainstream a zillion years ago pop up and call "prior art" or something like that?
posted by freecellwizard at 8:33 AM on July 16


Prior art is a patent term.

If they'd decided to call it No-Name or potentially even Nameless, then that would potentially infringe No-Name brand's trademark, assuming No-Name brand has a trademark in the United States or that they are offering their products in Canada. But you don't get protection for the concept of your brand, but for the actual words and symbols and such that you use. An "ordinary casual consumer somewhat in a hurry" isn't going to mistake the bright yellow of No-Name products with the more muted and varied colours here -- especially if you can only buy Brandless products on Brandless's website so the consumer would have to have gone there first. That's part of the Canadian test -- not sure exactly how the US test for confusion differs.

The more interesting question is whether Brandless's packaging concept (or No-Name's) is sufficiently distinctive to attract trademark / trade dress protection on its own. No-Name's probably is, because of the single colour they use across their entire product line, and because they've had significant time in their market to establish signalling power. Brandless's looks fairly cohesive when you're viewing a bunch of their products all in one spot, but if you put their flavours of popcorn amongst other brands' flavours of popcorn, they wouldn't necessarily stand out as being this particular Brandless brand. Would a consumer who had seen the packaging in the snack aisle then associate it with the same brand when they saw similar packages in the cosmetics aisle?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:58 AM on July 16


So obviously the person who came up with the No-Name brand would themselves go by the name "No One" so, were anyone to inquire who came up with the concept, the answer would be...

(With apologies to Homer)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 10:02 AM on July 16


Yeah, I can't see how this is anything but an e-commerce-era, Americanized (and therefore more slapdash and incoherent) take on Muji.

The aspect of Muji that most of its customers don't get — because they live in places where both the chain and Japan itself are fetishized — is that in situ, Muji truly is an everyday thing, and is priced accordingly. (You can still see this in the price in yen that is printed in the little rectangle on the label of each and every thing they sell.)

For example, when we lived a two minutes' walk from the Muji in Ebisu Atré, we'd realize we didn't have the right kind of can opener in the drawer, trot down to Atré to pick one up, and come home with a decently-made, gorgeously unbranded, soothingly monochrome item for something like two bucks.

It's only when Muji is marked up to Islington or MoMA prices that it becomes this obscene parody of itself. So I'd be the very first person cheering at the news that someone had successfully been able to launch a direct US or UK equivalent of Muji, selling items of similar clarity and quality at similarly basic prices. Unfortunately, this reeks of that particular, self-congratulatory funk of startup-era enterprise, most of the products on offer are kinda wack, and it just obliviously sails right on by that material-semiotic sweet spot Muji has occupied so successfully in its domestic market these past thirty years or so. 残念 です ね。
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:01 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


All I wanted was a Pepsi Blue.
posted by dywypi at 1:43 PM on July 16


Heh. I actually didn't try it till I was an adult. My wife grew up a big fan.

Not to insult your wife but that was the first thing I ever tasted that was just wrong. Lady across the street was sitting us and she'd made chicken salad with that and we were used to homemade mayo and eww!

I don't remember what it tastes like just that I didn't expect it. So in the interest of fairness I am going to look for a small jar of it and inflict it upon the kids.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:02 PM on July 16


I smell OK Cola
posted by Yowser at 9:37 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


when I was a kid, I always wanted to give Brand X a try, just once. I saw Kroger's Cost Cutter all the time but I never saw Brand X.

I was twenty-five before I realized that the 'famous maker' in ads for places like TJ Maxx was not an actual brand.
posted by winna at 5:38 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


So the box of Brandless™ Products arrived. Marked BrandTax Free™ For what it's worth.
Initial thoughts:
- Apparently I have no idea have many ounces are in the food jars I normally buy. All of the jars and containers seemed smaller than normal to me
- It was very well packed - but seems like a lot of packaging
- The organic crunchy peanut butter seems pretty good / we've demolished half of it already
- The Coffee pods (yeah I know) work better / seem tastier than other off brand nesspresso pods we've tried - especially at 50 cents a pod
- All of the facts on the labels (organic, gluten free, etc) seem normal except one weird one, With "the mother", on the Apple Cider Vinegar.
- All the food I brought is brown or darker shades of red or yellow. With plainer packaging this comes far more obvious
posted by inflatablekiwi at 8:03 AM on July 20


The mother in vinegar is the bacteria that turns juice into vinegar -- it's like having yogurt that still contains live bacterial cultures rather than having them filtered/pasteurized out. It's theoretically supposed to have health benefits, but there's a bit of alternative medicine woo around that, so I have no idea if it's true or not.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:12 AM on July 20


I got my stuff--the liquid items (mustard, hand soap) were in zip-lock bags; the quinoa puffs and truffle-black pepper popcorn were loose in the box. All the items were on the bottom of the box, and the rest was filled with brown butcher paper. The packaging materials appear to be both recycled and recyclable. The box also included a little postcard Mad Lib thing to help you evangelize about the, wink-wink, non-brand.

The hand soap, at three bucks, is a pretty good value and comparable to similar products. The lavender smell is as strong as e.g. Method or Dr. Bronner's or similar, but not as strong as some more boutique-y brands.

The mustard, also at three bucks, is not especially price-competitive (I thought I was getting two bottles for my three bucks--my bad)--it is, however, a perfectly serviceable organic dijon mustard.

The popcorn and puffs are... fine, but also not price-competitive for me--my usual grocery stores carry multiple brands of stuff like this, and at least one brand is usually on sale.

Conclusion: The quality of everything I bought ranged from fine to good. If you live the kind of life where fruit stands or CSA shares or farmer's markets are plentiful, but it's a hassle to get to a traditional grocery store, these folks could probably help you fill in some basics at a not-unreasonable cost. If you're a cheapskate, you'll probably be able to occasionally find good, not amazing, value propositions (pay attention to shipping costs and item sizes). If you are motivated by the 'Brandless' aspect... I mean, who am I to judge?
posted by box at 7:46 AM on July 22


Okay, I deduce from you not sounding way more surprised that the mustard and soap were inside bottles and in turn those bottles were inside zip-lock bags. And you better believe if I bought mustard in a bag it needs to be price competitive.

I mean, if they were really going all-out for minimalist packaging, and they don't need to be on retail shelves, who knows? I'd probably be annoyed at the popcorn and puffs being "loose in the box" though ...
posted by RobotHero at 8:07 AM on July 22


(That's correct, both the mustard and hand-soap were in the usual types of plastic bottles you'd expect. The popcorn and puffs were in bags, which were, in turn, loose in the box. My apologies for any confusion.)
posted by box at 8:25 AM on July 22


For a minute there I thought they were really committed to saving on shipping costs.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:29 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


You can buy milk in a bag, so why not mustard?
posted by RobotHero at 8:53 AM on July 22


I assumed box meant that the mustard and soap actually came in bags, because that's how I buy my soap, so it seemed legit.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:51 AM on July 22


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