Crunchy honey: an innovative way to market crystallized honey

Crunchy honey will dissolve easily in hot tea. Pixabay image.

Subtle shifts in marketing often help customers see products in a different light. This rebranding of crystallized honey makes me want to run right out and buy some.

Recently, an astute UK beekeeper named Emily, was shopping at M&S when she stumbled upon a display of crunchy honey. Intrigued by the idea, Emily immediately snapped a photo and sent it my way.

Founded in 1884, M&S (Marks & Spencer) is a popular, upscale, store with an excellent reputation for quality and service. They also have a knack for innovation, something that has made them a superpower in the retail world. The idea of selling crunchy honey is nothing short of brilliant.

Crystallized honey is highly underrated

Crystallized honey is one of those polarizing products. Many Europeans love its practical possibilities: it doesn’t slip off your warm toast but still dissolves effortlessly in your hot tea.

Americans, though, want their honey liquid, even if it means warming it periodically to keep it that way. But too much warming can impair the flavor and antiseptic properties of honey, so I’m definitely of the crystallized-is-fine mindset.

How crystallized honey is sold

The crunchy honey label descibes the floral nature and texture. No deception is involvled.
The label describes the floral origins of the honey and its texture. Nicely done. Photo by Emily.

Crystallized honey is usually sold in two different ways. Often it is “creamed,” a process of controlled crystallization that keeps the crystal size small and uniform. The resulting product is smooth and spreadable.

If not creamed, the honey may simply be labeled “honey.” Here in the states, we often see a supplementary label explaining that crystallization is a normal process that can be reversed by warming the jar in a pan of hot water.

Crunchy honey is not past its pull date

Many people go to great lengths to avoid crystallized honey as if it is somehow past its “best by” date. But that is simply not true. The rate of crystallization depends on several things, but the most important factor is the nectar source. Crystallization does not equate with “old” because some honey starts to crystallize even before harvest.

Rebranding crystallized honey as crunchy honey sheds a whole new light on an overlooked product. Instead of concealing what the package contains, the label tells you exactly what’s inside: honey that goes “crunch” when you eat it.

Seeing honey in a new light

I like the rebranding idea because it helps consumers understand that nothing is wrong with crystallized honey. Crystallization is simply a natural process where the sugar molecules arrange themselves into crystals, just like rock candy.

Sometimes it helps to look at things in a different way. Just as we accept ice as a form of water, we should accept crystalline honey as just another form of honey.

Many thanks to Emily for pointing out a clever product and to M&S for their creativity.

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  • Hmmm… I have multiple 5-gallon buckets of “crunchy honey.” Up until now, I’d just been referring to them as “5-gallon bricks.”

  • Unfortunately, it is illegal for a U.K. seller to describe honey as “creamed” as it aparently implies that it is made from cream. Strange, as there are dozens of other products with similarly misleading names: milk of magnesia, sweatbreads, mince meat, not to mention ice cream come to mind.

    • Dave,

      Oh, interesting. I didn’t know that. Here it is also called whipped honey or spun honey.

  • Brilliant! However, I feel like after 7 years of local marketing here in Australia I’ve managed to educate my customers and now they love the honey that gets candy (while when I started they would say they’d microwave it in case of crystallization).

  • What a great idea, thank you Rusty. You might want to mention that “creaming” honey also overheats it and impairs the flavor and antispetic properties of honey. Allowing honey to crystalize naturally definitely makes it a bit crunchier!

  • Crystallized honey is very common in the UK when harvested early in the season because there is so much OSR “oil seed rape” being grown which flowers in the spring. The bees love it and it sets even in the hive before you remove the supers, so you either warm it and whisk it then jar it OR you keep the supers in sealed black bags and give it back to them in the Autumn when you remove the “runny honey” which most people like to purchase. Sometimes there is too much to do either, so I just use it myself and give some to my family. Let’s see what happens this spring regarding how close the fields are that the local farmer’s sow?

    • Note: For North Americans who may be unsure, OSR is what we usually call canola. And it crystallizes just as fast here as it does there!