Donuts delivered and popcorn procured: What does a fieldwork company think about food delivery services?

There’s nothing new about food delivery. We’ve been ordering pizza delivered to our front doors for decades and it usually arrives pretty hot within 40 minutes or so, depending on whether you’ve got 1 inch or 3 meters of snow blocking the roads.

Yet when I heard that Tim Horton’s was going to test home delivery via Skip the Dishes in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa, I’ll admit I was surprised.  Digging into the details a little more, I also discovered that Cineplex is testing home delivery via Uber Eats. Of popcorn. Donuts and popcorn delivered right to your door. I’m not sure why I think home delivery of a $10 pizza is logical but home delivery of $30 popcorn, candy, and drinks is not. Perhaps it’s that pizza attempts to be a food item whereas the others are unhealthy treats that should be eaten so infrequently that… we don’t need an app for that.

Of course, there is an abundance of food delivery apps, including Foodora, DoorDash, and Just-Eat that allow anyone to order any edible (cannabis brownies on October 17 perhaps?) from anywhere and have it delivered within the hour. Basically, people could have been finding ways to order movie popcorn and single Timbits delivered to their front door for a long time now. It just might be about time for these retailers to actively promote home delivery rather than have it happen accidentally with no planning nor preparation.

As experts in in-home food testing (IHUTS), package testing, and sensory testing, we’re intrigued on many levels. Food designed to be eaten immediately in the store, in a car, or in the theatre requires very different packaging than food that will jostle around in an oversized bicycle trunk for thirty minutes. Packages must be functionally sturdy, not tip over, and still be environmentally friendly and attractive. ”CanadianPackaging should be designed for two separate needs.

Similarly, food designed to be eaten within ten minutes of being prepared will lose its unique sensory features – crisp and crunchy becomes soggy and rubbery, hot becomes luke-warm, melty becomes slimy, moist becomes greasy, spicy becomes salty, fizzy becomes flat. Just seeing those words makes me squirm uncomfortably and consider never ordering delivery again. It’s not easy to prepare food that looks and tastes as good five minutes after it’s made versus 45 minutes after it’s made. Naturally, I’m less worried about a Timbit bumping around on a bike for half an hour, than I am for nachos which we all know will congeal into a plate of glue.

Tim Horton’s and Cineplex will have to watch their new initiatives very carefully. Their brand is on the line, and they’ll need to make sure these third-party services don’t spill the popcorn or let it get soggy.

If you do order the nachos, let me know how that works out. No pictures please!

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