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  Wonder Bread
Wonder Bread
slice-by-slice
by Mark J. Miller
March 11, 2010

Every year the average American consumes 53 pounds of bread. And many of those Americans will eat bread that comes wrapped in multi-colored, spotted bag – the same bag its been packaged in since the brand’s inception in 1921.
 
Originally baked by the Taggart baking company in Indianapolis, the name and design were both inspired by a hot-air balloon race held early that year at the Indianapolis Speedway. Now, more than 90 years later, folks are still munching what the company claims was the country’s first sliced bread.

Times have changed since then, and when one looks at Wonder Bread’s website, wonderbread.com, the company is clearly trying to send the message that its product has nutritious value.

Upon entering the site, a loaf of Wonder spins around on a blank-slate background and opens itself. Sliced bread pops out, followed by a fast-moving kid on a bicycle, a soccer ball, another kid with a backpack, and various other things that exit off on all sides. Also popping out of the bag are the symbols for the site’s six different sections that move about disconcertingly in a small area at the center of the page.

Front and center in that group is “Nutrition,” represented by a jug of milk along with a stalk of wheat. Such prime placement for this section is no surprise. Throughout the site, it is clear that one of the site’s main goals is to present the brand’s nutritional value. For example, the headline that pops up on the home page is “Have a Healthy Sense of Wonder.” Enough said.

Obviously this point is promoted aggressively in the “Nutrition” section where the site explains that Wonder was “one of the first to fortify white bread with nutrients that promote strong bones.” Apparently two slices of Wonder these days provides the same amount of calcium as a 12-ounce glass of milk. And don’t forget the Vitamin D! Wonder apparently has plenty of that, too. What’s overwhelmingly clear is that the brand has always fought an image that it isn’t healthy enough for kids to be chowing on. The site does everything in its power to shift anyone’s mind in the other direction.

Marketing has sure come a long way from the days when Wonder would just sponsor “Howdy Doody” and revel in Buffalo Bob Smith saying, "Wonder Bread builds strong bodies eight ways. Look for the red, yellow and blue balloons printed on the wrapper."

A new, effective, and fun tool on the site in this battle is the Wonderizer in which you can “build” a sandwich with different breads and spreads, cheeses, veggies, meats, chocolate chips, dill pickles, pretty much whatever you desire. As you click on each ingredient, the sandwich is constructed onscreen and a button nearby leads you to the nutritional value of the beautiful piece of culinary art you’ve created. (The chocolate chips, by the way, only add 60.3 calories!)

If you love your sandwich so much that you think the world needs to know about it, give it a name (“The Soprano,” “Thanksgiving-To-Go,” “The Secret Club,” etc.) and let the world take a gander.

 
 
Wonder Bread The nutrition angle carries over to the “Recipe” section, which features a slew of dishes with Wonder as an ingredient for breakfast (Wonder Blintzes, Caribbean Cruise Stuffed French Toast), lunch (Wonder Trail Mix Sandwich), appetizers (White Bean Dip with Garlic Sticks, Wonder Bread Mushroom Appetizer Croustades), dinner (Wonder Turkey Stuffing, Wonderfully Crunch Chicken Casserole), and dessert (All-American Peach Pie Wonder, Top-of-the-Morning Wonder Bread Pudding). Each recipe carefully lays out the nutritional value of every dish. What else could your diet need?

Along with this, the “Family Fun” section, offers tips on how to make cooking with your children more enjoyable. It includes such tips as “stay on their level,” “turn the oven light on,” and “don’t just cut cookies,” meaning that there are plenty of other treats that can make great shapes, too.

And Wonder isn’t just for eating anymore. The highlight of the site’s “Family Fun” area details how to make sculptures with crustless Wonder Bread that you’ve left out for 24 hours. Other arts and crafts ideas put forth in the section include making napkin rings and printing out a three-page Wonder Bread coloring “book.”

The design of the site is in great shape as well. It is mostly built on a solid white background with sharp primary-color images very clearly juxtaposed with the stark whiteness – reminiscent of the bread itself. One of the design highlights, though, is in the “About Wonder” section where small images feature funky photographs or old-school advertisements throughout Wonder’s storied history. When you click on each one, a brief explanation appears on the screen. It’s a simple and lovely blend of technology and history.

Nevertheless, the site is all about staying on message, and the bottom line of this site features the brand’s current motto: “Soft. Delicious. Nutritious.” And the website does an excellent job of backing up the brand’s claims with detailed facts and savvy positioning.

 

Mark J. Miller writes a daily sports column for Yahoo! Sports and is a contributing writer to Crain's BtoB's Media Business magazine. His work has appeared in National Geographic Adventure, ESPN, The Washington Post, Salon.com, I.D., and Glamour, among others.

*Due to the constantly changing environment of websites, some reviews may no longer reflect the current website for this brand.
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