There’s Got to Be a Better Way: I Say No Hip Hip Hooray for Hooray Puree’

6a00d8341c58f853ef01157036110e970c-250wiI was shopping at my local Costco in Chicago today when I stumbled upon one of the many sampling stations set up throughout the store.  I had skipped the others, but this display caught my attention. All of these moms were gathered around a tall guy in a hair net talking about children’s nutrition.  He was demonstrating a new product called Hooray Puree?, tubes of frozen pureed vegetables to sneak into macaroni and cheese, brownies and other “kid foods.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Here was the concept of Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious come to life in the aisles of Costco!  I guess it was only a matter of time before a company jumped on this idea. Is it really an indication of the power of this trend?

If you read my earlier posts [Debating the Merits of Stealth Veggies and An Update on the Seinfeld Food Fight] then you know I’m not a fan of this stealth vegetable tactic.  I’d rather parents work on new ways to get kids to love vegetables, rather than focus on hiding them.6a00d8341bfc7553ef00e54f2ddeb28833-640wi

Even so, I know sometimes that means getting creative at mealtime.  It’s not always easy, but I think there are better ways to teach kids to enjoy eating vegetables. I appreciate the company’s interest in children’s diets, but the recipes they promote to use with the purees are not really going to help.  Each 4-ounce packet (including spinach, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and butternut squash) is equal to 1 vegetable serving.  But then most of the recipes only use 1 packet and they serve 4 or more.  That translates to less than 1 ounce of vegetables per serving!

For example, the beef stew recipe featured on the company’s web site is 1 can of Dinty Moore Stew and 1 packet of carrot puree.  So for one serving of this delicious stew, your child would get about a tablespoon of carrots!  Come on.

Similarly, the macaroni and cheese recipe is 1 box of mac n’ cheese plus 1 packet of butternut squash puree. Once again, that’s only 1 ounce of vegetables per serving.  I wouldn’t want parents to think they’re off the hook, they gave their kids vegetables with just a dollop of mushed vegetables mixed in. The meat loaf recipe features 2 packets of purees, but the recipe serves 6-8…so that’s still just about 1 ounce of vegetables per serving.  You’d be better off adding grated carrots and small bits of red pepper to your meat loaf mixture. There’s got to be a better way!

Hooray Puree is made by a Chicago-area company called ReeRee Foods in Elk Grove Village.  Since it’s a local creation, I feel a little bad being negative.  But I wish this desire to get kids to eat better would result in a different type of product.  I think this will only distract parents.  And even though the intent is admirable, the actual product — and stealth technique —  is not.

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  • Shelley, MS, RD, LD


    Just curious if you caught the cost of these pureed veggies. I’m guessing it was a lot more than the “real” thing; especially knowing that you can get a few pounds of fresh carrots at a resonable cost at Costco .

    I’m with you that it just doesn’t seem worth the “trouble.”


  • Personally, I’d rather “weave” in the veggies vs. “sneak” them in. I’m all about full disclosure. If I make brownies and add half a cup of canned pureed pumpkin, I tell my kiddos about mom’s “secret ingredient.”
    I agree with you Janet that an ounce of hidden veggies isn’t going to make a dent in kids’ nutrition. I say, “bring on the broccoli.”

  • (Blushing) I used to be one to hide the veggies…

    Then I was diagnosed with Lupus and have become a vegan (rather than continuing that awful medication!). They seem to want to follow “mommy being healthy” when they see me eating a plate full of veggies. 🙂

  • Janet

    You are so right. Being a positive role model is perhaps the most powerful thing you can do! Children learn from their parents, so they’ll learn to love vegetables if they see you enjoying them yourself. If vegetables are hidden, and really apologized for, how will they learn these healthy behaviors?
    Thanks for your message.
    Come visit again, Janet

  • Janet,

    Hi. As the founder and owner of Hooray Puree I understand the criticism but this product is intended to increase the vegetable intake for your kids…plus to give parents a convenient solution to the task of pureeing at home. We had a 2…going on 3 year old that was tremendously peaky…especially when it came to his veggies…we tried everything but finally started to puree at home. It worked and then it became an interactive/fun event for my wife and son. I’m happy to report that as a 4 year old he eats veggies all the time and loves to cook. I’m sorry you did not like our product…we coming out with other exciting line items in the future…all vegetable and fruit based.


  • Janet

    Thanks for your message. I do appreciate your desire to increase the vegetable intake of kids. It’s something that’s so important, and most kids’ diets need a lot of improvement. Maybe your product is a starting point. And if it gets kids interested in cooking that’s great. But the recipes you have for the products need a lot of work, in my opinion. Most of the recipes I looked at would result in only about a tablespoon of the pureed vegetables per serving. So that’s not really making an impact. Would like to see a lot more vegetables incorporated before I could call that a victory. And would like to see multiple strategies working together — not just hiding the purees into other foods (and certainly your choices of what to use with the purees could be improved.). But I do like the convenience of the product. I hated the thought that moms were following the Seinfeld book and spending so much time cooking and pureeing vegetables. Best of luck to you. I love an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s just not something I’ll be picking up at Costco for our family.

  • Janet,

    Would love your advise on recipe development and other strategies that can work. I’m a dad first and entrepreneur second…any way we can improve the product, the recipes, the message, or the products we have in development…I would welcome your opinion. Please send me your recipe ideas…we’ll have them printed and I’ll put them in the selling unit box we have at Costco. We’ve already been sent a number of recipes from the mom’s that have used the product and we plan on sharing those with the other consumers. I’ll keep you updated on our progress. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly –


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  • CH

    I just wanted to say that I’m really grateful for the Hooray Puree frozen vegetables. I use them when making Green Smoothies. I’m trying to make healthy changes for myself including eating a lot more vegetables but it can be really difficult to keep lots of fresh vegetables around without them going bad. Sure as I get more accustomed to eating healthier and including more vegetables and fruits in my diet I want to make plenty of fresh produce a part of that. However, for now, the frozen puree vegetables are such a blessing and I use them daily.
    Also I would like to add that Green Smoothies are an incredible way to help kids eat more fruits and vegetables and it doesn’t involve any deception or trying to hide things. A Green Smoothie can consist of a cup of fruit like blueberries, a banana, a bunch of greens like spinach (such as 1or2 of the hooray puree packs) and juice to help with blending. The butternut squash is incredible in a smoothie also. The fruit in green smoothies makes the taste great masking the vegetable flavor for kids and adults that struggle with the taste of vegetables. At the same time as you eat Green Smoothies you learn to crave fruits and vegetables and get more comfortable with them.

  • LBC

    How is this different from using baby food? Or running your own vegetables through the blender in batches and freezing them in ice cube trays for later use? Seems like a lot of packaging for something that would be very easily made at home while you wait for the washer to run on a Saturday morning.

  • I think it is an excellent lesson teaching every one about these deceptive but delicious food. Since, we all are worried about our kids health, we need to learn these tricks to see through the companies claims.Thanks for the informative post.

  • Packaged food has become a fad among the mothers and children in recent years, due to several reasons. It is not good to trust fully on the labels pasted on the packages. The companies generally claim taller than the actual size. Hence, we need to be extra vigilant.

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