On Wednesday, Ellen Huet and Olivia Zaleski of Bloombergpublished a story debunking the myths peddled by a buzzy invention, straight from the fertile plains of Silicon Valley. Juicero Inc.’s particular fiction was that its $400 flagship product, Juicero, could take single-serving packets of powdered fruits and vegetables and strain them into juice through an internet-connected juicer. It is the Keurig of cold-pressed juice machines, an entirely inessential product marketed as essential.
The problem? A few investors began to realize you could squeeze juice from these packets with your bare hands. Huet and Zaleski put these murmurs to the test with a video that speaks for itself:
The story went very viral very quickly, igniting a PR crisis for Juicero, the once-darling of juice startups. The investigation prompted Jeff Dunn, the company’s newly-christened CEO, to pen a letter on Medium to vouch for his product he holds dear to him. It’s quite the letter, replete with appeals to sentiment (“The value is in how easy it is for a frazzled dad to do something good for himself while getting the kids ready for school,” he writes, “without having to prep ingredients and clean a juicer.”). Dunn refers to juicing as "hacking." He also neglects to mention the Bloomberg article by name. (Most in the comments section see through Dunn’s quantum leaps in logic, asking why you'd buy this product when it's possible to make your own juice for much cheaper.)
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Embedded within the Medium post is also a video, below, of a Juicero PR rep slicing open the bag with a pair of scissors and reaching into its contents, which look like microwaved bits of Play Doh. It's meant to deter people from hand-squeezing the juice packets. Never mind the fact that this physical act is far from what the Bloomberg reporters actually did, which was simply apply light pressure to the bag before its contents began dribbling out.
Despite dodging these criticisms and defending the merits of this product rather unconvincingly, Dunn confesses that he's looking at this as a learning opportunity. And he gets at least one thing right: He’s offering full refunds to displeased customers.
If you’ve got a Juicero, ask for your money back. Salute the work of these reporters. Raise a toast to them—a glass of juice, even. Squeeze its ingredients with your hands. It’s easy, and not that expensive.
Do you own a Juicero? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.