Edible Arrangements have become synonymous with one thing: Inoffensive, fail-safe fruit bouquets you can give your boss—or that cousin who basically returns every gift ever given. But if you think it's all just skewered pineapple flowers and apple spears, you're missing out.
Here's the side of the brand most people aren't so familiar with.
1. It Started With A Teenager And An Actual Flower Shop.
Tariq Farid, the company's founder, opened his first business at 16 years old. He bought a local flower shop back in 1985, but it wasn't until 1999 that he pivoted to focus on fruit-based bouquets, launching Edible Arrangements in East Haven, CT.
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2. It's Now A $500 Million+ Business.
Farid didn't conduct extensive market research—in fact, when a family friend asked if he'd done focus groups to prove there was a demand for fruit arranged like flowers, he bluffed, saying yes when he had no idea what a focus group even was, according to Inc. That first year, he was thrilled to get 30 orders at Easter, but soon, word of mouth picked up, and people started coming to him, asking to franchise. That organic growth has led to more than 1,300 stores worldwide, and more than $500 million in sales each year, a representative said.
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3. There's A Special School For Learning Their Bouquet-Making Tricks.
Franchise owners attend a two-week-long program before opening their first shop, known as Edible University, where they learn all aspects of the business, from sales to how to slice and dip fruit in chocolate.
4. They're Turning Pineapples Into Micro-Birthday Cakes.
Some ideas start with a craving—say, a mid-day desire for a combination of caramel, apples and pumpkin spice—and some start with a goal, says Olivia Dupin, product development chef for the company. The latter is what inspired the brand's pineapple "birthday cakes." Birthdays are the top category the company focuses on, so Dupin's boss gave her a mission: Create a dipped fruit that immediately signals birthday to people the instant they see it.
She came up with these pineapple rounds dipped in chocolate and coated in sprinkles, which are garnished with actual candles, so people could sing "Happy Birthday" just like they would with cake, but her boss challenged her to take things one step further to make them really look like something you'd order from a bakery, so she coated the sides in micro chocolate chips (for the chocolate "cakes") and coconut (for the white chocolate version).
5. Everything's Made Right In The Store.
None of the fruits are precut or contain preservatives, which means store employees have to be able to create every pineapple cupcake and daisy that Edible Arrangements sells. This presents a challenge for Dupin, who has to test every product they make to ensure it's easy for people of all skill levels to recreate—and that they can make it quickly and efficiently, since shop owners also have a business to run.
6. It Takes One Year For Ideas To Become Products.
Once Dupin's come up with a new product, and her team's sold on it, it then goes out to about 10-15 stores to be sold as a test. During the sales period, she gathers feedback on two levels: What customers think of the treat, and what employees think of making it. If people aren't interested in buying it, it's an obvious back-to-the-drawing-board, but equally important is how easy it is for the employees to recreate. That process can take up to a year before the item's ready to roll out nationwide, Dupin says.
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7. They're Reinventing Truffles.
Finally, chocolates that are practically health food. The company's reimagined the classic ganache-filled chocolates to have a fruit base—like banana or apple—with the same rich chocolate you'd expect from the original treat.
8. There's A Reason Why They Don't Do Milk Chocolate.
Edible Arrangements only dips its fruit in semisweet chocolate or white chocolate, and that's because those two are best able to stand up to the acidity and sweetness of the fruit. Milk chocolate tends to taste too sugary sweet when paired with fruit, explained Xavier Lederer, who oversees growth and business development for the brand.
9. Customization Is Key.
With all of the secret menus out there, it should be no surprise that people love to make food their own. Dupin learned this early on, when she started coming up with colorful chocolates that could be used to drizzle on treats. "When I asked people about their favorite color, it wasn't 'pink,' it was 'peach' or 'blush.' It wasn't 'green,' but 'forest green,'" she explained. That led to the creation of more than 60 color "swizzles," which can be used to customize chocolate-dipped caramel apples and other treats.
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