Our toastie maker became one of 2023’s most viral products

Mike Harper tells us how the CRIMPiT sandwich toaster grabbed the attention of social media users and celebrity influencers, creating a vocal community of users.

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It’s a familiar story to parents across the country: early mornings driving your kids to and from whatever sport they have decided to take up. This was certainly the case for my co-founder Ian Critchlow, who was regularly getting up at 4am to take his son to swimming practice.

As with many teenagers, his son needed fuel – specifically, a toasted peanut butter and banana sandwich on the recommendation of his coaches – in order to power him through the early morning sessions.

It was out of these dietary demands that the business idea for the viral CRIMPiT was born.

From humble beginnings to mass appeal

Ian had dabbled in the world of invention before, and set about creating a tool that would help him to make pre-prepared sandwiches that could be popped in the toaster to heat up when ready to eat – making for a much more appealing experience than a soggy sandwich thrown together under the fridge light at 3:30am.

After plenty of sketches and prototyping, the CRIMPiT emerged: a device that could be used to make sealed pockets, using low-calorie thin bread, that could be popped in the toaster at the last minute.

Ian was an ex-colleague of mine, and upon realising that his invention could have mass appeal, he contacted me. I was just as excited about it as him, and with our combined years of marketing experience, we decided to create and invest in the CRIMPiT.

Within an amazing six months, we were taking the product to market. The Facebook ads rolled out and the orders began to roll in. We packed orders on our kitchen tables, with friends and family pitching in.

How social media sold our demonstrable product

The key to the CRIMPiT’s success was being able to demonstrate it in front of people, something we knew would be a key factor. As such, social media marketing played a big role in our promotional strategy from the start. The CRIMPiT is one of those things you don’t think you need, but once you try it, you love it. It genuinely makes life easier, but we needed to show people this.

Working with just a handful of influencers, we started to build up content that showed how easy it is to use – and things completely snowballed. The product orders started flying in. We increased production. Media coverage started to appear, with CRIMPiT featuring in The Mail, The Times, The Guardian, food magazines, and radio shows.

Facebook groups started popping up, with users sharing their favourite sweet and savoury recipe ideas. We started getting celebrity endorsements, including from the likes of Mrs Hinch and Davina McCall.

Soon the business outgrew the kitchen tables, and so the move to a small warehouse was made. Six months later, the business outgrew that warehouse. Now residing in a 4,000 square foot warehouse in the northwest with eight full-time employees and 30 part-time, it’s a remarkable success story from humble beginnings.

The impact of COVID-19

Initially, the product was produced in China, but in the midst of COVID-19 it proved difficult – and very expensive – to guarantee the stock. We had to rethink things. The solution was to move production to the UK entirely.

It proved cheaper, and became a key part of the ethos of the company. Now proudly made in Britain, the CRIMPiT prides itself on being manufactured and distributed from the northwest, supporting the local economy and improving the quality of our product.

Our customers gave us our next big idea

Our community is hugely engaged. Social media first enabled us to show people how to use our product, and now it gives people the chance to talk directly to us about it. And of course, listening to your audience is vital for business growth.

This led to the next stage in our business journey – launching the new CRIMPiT Wrap Sealer.

Could we, we were asked in the Facebook group, create a CRIMPiT for wraps as well as sandwich thins? Toasties are one thing but wraps are quite another, and it turns out most of us struggle to create neat wraps at home.

The answer, of course, was yes – and we did. With the same iconic yellow and grey design and ease of use, as well as high quality food grade plastic, the new CRIMPiT Wrap Sealer was created, and is already proving very popular. Just like last time, end users are sharing their creations far and wide.

Finding a new angle

This new product has opened up a whole new angle, as we realised that the CRIMPiT Wrap Sealer is ideal for using up leftovers and reducing food waste. What was last night’s dinner can simply be popped in a wrap to make a delicious lunch to take to work the next day.

Partnering with the food waste awareness app, Kitche, we released a limited edition green CRIMPiT Wrap Sealer to raise awareness and promote this benefit.

The importance of listening to the community

When you get a recurring message from your customers, you have to respond. It’s why focus groups are so important and why interactive community groups and social media are so powerful – you get real, immediate feedback and you can invent, improve, and expand with confidence that there is already an appetite. Thousands of five-star reviews on Trustpilot and millions of shares across social media are testament to this.

We’re also partnering with packaging companies and charities to raise awareness of different food issues and we have a community of well over 100,000 people, sharing ideas, recipes and inspiration.

The CRIMPiT community was spot on – and it’s growing with us. It’s going to be quite a year, and we’ll keep listening!

Mike Harper holding a CRIMPiT toasted sandwich maker
Mike Harper

Mike Harper and Ian Critchlow are the founders of CRIMPiT, whose viral sandwich and wrap toasters help customers create delicious, warm, and mess-free snacks and lunches.

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