Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thinking Thermos: A Funtainer and Foogo Comparison

This review is of the first generation of Funtainer.

UPDATE, 2-17-09: We no longer recommend the new version of the FUNtainer straw bottle (not shown or discussed in here). Please read our detailed concerns about the NEW version straw bottle.

You can see our earlier review of the next generation of FUNtainer and Foogo straw bottles.

Back when we first became concerned about the presence of bisphenol-A in sippy cups and bottles, I lucked into finding a great Thermos FUNtainer straw bottle for Ranger. The stainless steel bottle's spring-loaded flip-top entertained him for much of multi-hour long car ride, so I quickly fell in love with the bottle.

When Z Recommends reviewed the new Foogo line of baby and toddler products, I couldn't help but observe the similarity between the "new" Foogo straw bottle and our FUNtainer straw bottle. Jeremiah at Z Recs agreed that they appeared the same and even wrote a post about their apparent similarity.

Well, looks can be deceiving. Thanks to some lovely people at Thermos, we got our hands on a Foogo straw bottle, a Foogo food jar, a FUNtainer straw bottle, and a FUNtainer food jar.

It turns out that though the Foogo and FUNtainer lines look very similar, they have different form and function.

The straw bottles have a very different spout assembly. Both assemblies are easy to clean and sturdy. The Foogo is the blue bottle on the left, the FUNtainer is the pink bottle on the right.


The Foogo (left/blue)- designed for infants and toddlers-- has a much larger top straw assembly than the FUNtainer (right/pink). The Foogo integrates a large straw top that fits over a large plastic disk below the screw on lid (see next photo). It is impossible to remove without fully unscrewing the Thermos lid, and it is quite large to be considered a choking risk.

The FUNtainer's small silicone straw top seems better suited for an older child who won't pull it off (it has a very snug fit, so I can't imagine it being removed accidentally) and create a choking hazard.

Foogo's disk straw assembly also serves as the inner seal between the steel Thermos body and the screw-on lid. The FUNtainer has a blue gasket to perform the same function. The Foogo seems much easier to fully clean after a dairy or juice drink.

The bottom straws for the Foogo and FUNtainer are identical and thus interchangeable. This makes bottle cleaning and management much easier than with line-specific parts. Plus, the straws are cut on the bias on both ends. This allows better flow of the beverage into the straw. With both ends bias cut, you don't have to be very attentive to assemble the straw assembly correctly.

The Foogo seems only to be sold in the tasteful steel and blue color scheme while the FUNtainers have a wide variety of designs ranging from licensed characters to sports and hobbies.

The Foogo straw bottle definitely seems designed for younger user than the FUNtainer or standard Thermos gear (despite its sophisticated good looks). I plan to use the Foogo products long after our children are grown- which isn't unreasonable considering the high quality and durability of Thermos products.


Upon removing the food jars from the shipping package, I was immediately conscious of the weight difference. The FUNtainer jar is considerably heavier than the Foogo jar (~13.4 ounces: 9.7 ounces). The Foogo weighs about 2 ounces less than the standard black Thermos food jar I already owned.

So, being geeks, we wondered why the weights were so different. One feature was obvious- the plastic ring around the neck of the FUNtainer and the standard food jars were not present on the Foogo- making it a few ounces lighter. This is really a nice weight consideration for a jar that will be riding in an already packed diaper bag.It turns out that the FUNtainer lid actually weighed over 2 ounces more than the other lids. Jim took one look at them and immediately figured out why the lids were different. The FUNtainer lid has a slip assembly so it can't be overtightened and damage the lid. The plastic neck rings on the FUNtainer (navy blue) and standard jars (black) seem to be in place to prevent damage to the lid from improper threading of plastic on metal. The steel Foogo neck instead widens immediately below the lid preventing it from being overtightened.

Our already high opinion of Thermos has increased with this product line investigation. The designers seem to consider function and users very thoroughly when working on even the smallest product details.

The FUNtainer line seems designed for durability and youthful carelessness (the straw bottles come with replacement inner and outer straws). The Foogo line seems to take into consideration additional safety precautions for toddlers and infants. It allows for meticulous cleaning and considers the weight and space demands already placed on caregivers.

Although we didn't have Foogo sippy cup to test nor a sippy cup drinker to test it (Ranger has never accepted a sippy cup for more than one attempt), I feel their quality construction and design will meet the high standards found in other Thermos products.

Foogo seems a great investment for anyone with very young children or infants because although they're designed for youngsters, their function and design are not limited to that age group.

FUNtainers will appeal to and withstand your bigger kids. FUNtainers are tweaked for a young, exuberant, and challenging user. By anticipating common damage scenarios, Thermos has created a design that will take a lot of abuse.

The standard Thermos line isn't shabby either. If the last Thermos you owned came in a Muppet Movie lunchbox, I strongly recommend that you check out their current products. Their smart, considered designs remind me that tiny details can make a huge difference. Thermos recognizes the value of small details in their design which makes for clever, quality products.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

I used the Funtainer for quite awhile but had to get rid of it when the top end of the straw broke (toddler chewed on it despite me telling her not to). They include one replacement straw set but it'd be helpful if one could order extras.

Jim said...

Whenever something happens like this with any product that we have, we always contact the company's customer service line and see if they can help.

Often they can and happily do. We had a problem with the steering wheel of a little tykes car. They sent us a new steering wheel assembly for free.

If this happens to you, try contacting Thermos' consumer customer service line: 1-800-831-9242

adrienne said...

I called Thermos today (1-800-831-9242) to see about replacement straws. The FUNtainer straws are sold in sets (lower and upper straws) and cost $1 per set.

There aren't replacement parts for the Foogo at this time (though that could be only because the product line is so new), but the Foogo seems a lot harder to lose than than the Funtainer upper straw.

It seems like those straws would be hard to bite through, but toddlers do have notable persistence.

adrienne said...

Thermos has confirmed that Foogo straw bottle replacement parts are ordered and will be available for purchase through Thermos' Customer Service Number (1-800-831-9242) in August, 2007.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comparison! Our now 4.5 year old has used a Funtainer on a daily basis for 2 years and her 3 year old brother has used his for at least 1 year. I just saw the Foogo and couldn't tell the difference...

I absolutely love our funtainers and have been on the hunt for non-licensed versions suitable for a boy (licensed products are not allowed at our preschool). I might have to get the foogo, but I'd rather stick with the Funtainer if I can find them. Any ideas on where to purchase one without a media character?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Check thermos.com (under lunch kits), they have the whole line of funtainers including some sports themed and other non-licensed designs.

Anonymous said...

I tried calling their customer service for a new straw part, and was on hold for over 20 minutes. Now I'm just going to try and write a letter.

Katie said...

one thing you didn't mention is that the funtaineer seems not to be dishwasher safe (whatever that means) while the foogo is. This is an issue for me... WHat do you think?

adrienne said...

Katie:

I wouldn't wash either the Foogo or the Funtainer in the dishwasher because the chlorine (in the dishwasher detergent) shortens the life of stainless steel.

Alicia said...

What an excellent and carefully thought out review! Thanks for putting this together for inquiring minds like mine. I personally love the Foogo line, but always wondered about Funtainer too.

Anonymous said...

I love the funtainer, but my mother inlaw claims she saw on the news that there is a product recall on it because of lead poisoning. Anyone know anything about this?

Lisa

adrienne said...

Hi Lisa-

There is NO recall on the Funtainer nor has it ever been mentioned as a lead hazard.

Thermos' only recalls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission web site (http://www.cpsc.gov/) are for a gas grill fire hazard and a handle on a different product that might break.

It might be handy to keep that site bookmarked. Between that and urban legend site (snopes.com) we've been able to avoid a lot of in-law inspired anxiety.

Anonymous said...

Hi, wanted to say Thanks for the great side by side comparison of these bottles, made it very easy for me to determine what I wanted to order. I hope to get them soon and let you know my review...but again thanks for this informative review/breakdown of the product...EXTREMELY HELPFUL!!!

Anonymous said...

We have been using the Funtainer products daily for 2 years now. They were exactly what I was looking for. They have enabled me to pack organic milk, not available at school, in lunchboxes. This is a fantastic product that doesn't leak, but the sipper straw part does eventually tear. I have repurchased new containers just to get that straw. A hand-washing tip for the small parts: use fuzzy pipe cleaners - this works GREAT! Careful not to "poke" the straw, though, as no replacement parts -ugh!

Vanessa said...

I just bought the Foogo after reading this blog. Thanks for pointing out the difference!

adrienne said...

Vanessa-

Thanks for reading our blog! I hope you like your Foogo as much as we like ours.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I just got the Foogo for my 2 1/2 year old son....he just loves it! Plus, it is pretty easy to clean. Thanks for going over the straw differences. It made my choice easier.

April said...

Does anyone know if I can use the top part of the Foogo thermos (with the straw) with the bottom part of the Foogo sippy cup? I want the smaller cup but also want the straw and not the "sipper." Obviously, the straw would need to be cut but would the sipper lid fit on the thermos bottle?

Guy said...

I ahve a questions...what does the inside of the foogo look like..is it stainless stell or plastic?

adrienne said...

guy:

The Foogo and the Funtainer both have a stainless steel interior.

Guy said...

Great! Thanks! I just wanted to make sure it wasn't plastic insulation on the inside even if it is BPA free.

adrienne said...

guy:

I understand. It seems easier to avoid plastic than to worry that the new "healthy" plastic will soon be tomorrow's front page warning.

Anonymous said...

My 18 month old has been using a Foogo daily for less than 2 months. Yesterday I noticed the plastic part that wraps around the bottom is cracked in 2 places. I know it takes abuse from being dropped, but I'm disappointed that it cracked. Does anyone know if this part is just for looks? Guess I'll find out if it serves a function when it falls off. Otherwise, I love the Foogo and so does my son. I just don't know if I'll buy another one since it broke so soon.

JillEBean said...

Does anyone know where in Canada you can actually purchase the Foogo line for a reasonable price? Or a US store that is willing to ship to Canada?

Amy said...

The bottom of mine cracked too. I have 3 of them; one bottom is fine, another is cracked, and another was so badly cracked we pulled it off. It is mostly for looks and the cup works fine without it, although the glue that helped hold it on it pretty ugly. One of our cups also has a broken cap. One of the 2 prongs that stick up and hold the lid on broke off.

I'm annoyed by the plastic cracking, but there aren't any other non-plastic straw cups out there and when we were shopping for cups, my daughter wouldn't use a sippy--only straws. Oh, well.

adrienne said...

Amy: Our son wouldn't ever use a sippy cup either.

:)

Anonymous said...

Foogos seem to be sold-out everywhere... Can a child as young as 18 months use a Funtainer?

adrienne said...

There's no official age recommendation for the cups, so it's all guesswork- and probably pretty dependent upon the child.

Our son wasn't an object chewer and tended not pull things apart at that age, but I would still have been hesitant to give him the style of Funtainer shown here.

There's a newer Funtainer version that has a bigger, rounded button on the front. It's assembly is much more like that of the Foogo (the straw goes below the lid instead of being a wee bit on top). I've seen them in Hello Kitty, Batman the Dark Night, and Speed Racer designs at Target. It's hard to tell online which version Funtainer you're getting, so I'd try to buy one at a local retailer. I think you'd be fine the new version of the Funtainer, but the old one would worry me.

Guy said...

Is anyone else having trouble with the foogo sippy leaking badly or am I doing something wrong? My sons milk is everywhere?

adrienne said...

Guy:

The Foogo sippy was reported to have leak issues by the good folks at Z Recommends:

http://zrecs.blogspot.com/2007/11/z-report-bpa-thermos.html


Their BPA-free sippy cup showdown might have some other suggestions for you:
http://zrecs.blogspot.com/2007/05/sippy-cup-showdown-safer-bpa-free-sippy.html

Megadharma said...

Hi, Does anyone have any experience in returning the cups to Thermos? I drove 2 hrs out of town to find a Funtainer at a Target (we don't have a Target) last Sunday. Today (less than a week later) the cup fell out of the fridge and one of the brackets that holds the lid on cracked off immediately. It seems to me that the lid should last longer than 6 days!! I already have an email into the Thermos people, and will call on Monday when they are open. I, of course, don't have my receipt but wouldn't have shlepped 4 hours round trip anyway just for a return. If anyone has experience trying to return cups to Thermos, let me know.

Also, I wanted to add that our Funtainer actually has a straw attachment like the Foogo one you're describing in your review. It doesn't have the smaller, more chokable straw, it has the plastic disc underneath like the Foogo. I actually tried to order a Foogo straw bottle from Walmart (which we do have in my town) last week but they were out. They are now back in stock on the website if anyone is looking to order.

I have three different metal sippies: The Kleen Kanteen, the Foogo sippy and the Funtainer (with the Foogo straw on order) and I have to say I like the Thermos brands the best because they are insulated. This wasn't such a huge issue when we were in Alaska, but now that we're in Arizona, we found that plastic cups ALL smell yucky so quickly. We actually started buying metal cups in effort to feel like we were actually providing our 2 year old with a clean product.

In answer to the poster wanting to get a Funtainer for their 18 month old, I can't imagine why not. My daughter was pretty small, so she would have had difficulty keeping a hold of it and opening the lid. However, if the child isn't carrying it around, the cup should work out fine. You might try the Foogo sippy, as it is smaller and some of them handles. Just my two cents

Anonymous said...

I love the Funtainers. Water still cold at the end of the girls' school day --- we live in DALLAS so this is impressive. Just called customer service 1-800-831-9242 and they picked up after ONE RING. The sippy straw tips are $1 each with $3.50 shipping. Amazing service!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all this info. I wasn't so sure I wanted to dish out $15 for a sippy. I will buy a Funtainer for my daughter. Any info on safe lead free/non toxic lunch boxes?

Anonymous said...

I also broke the lid on my son's funtainer beverage container after dropping it on a tile floor. I called Thermos and ordered a new lid for $5 total. My son's funtainer also has a top similar to the Foogo with a silicone disk that goes under the lid with an attached straw that pops through. Perhaps this is the newer design. My kids love their funtainers and I do too. Easy to clean and keeps drinks cold for hours and hours.

laura said...

I bought a Hello Kitty Funtainer at Target when I couldn't find a Foogo straw cup. This was just a few weeks after buying a Foogo sippy cup.

My 18 month old daughter likes both although the Funtainer is a bit heavy for her, she loves the kitties on it so it's a plus. We tend to rotate them around along with a born sippy cup, but the Born tops get chewed up so quickly by a teething toddler :(

I am having one major problem with my 3 week old Funtainer. It got dropped on the carpet (not hard wood floor mind you) and evidently the opening got shocked because the push botton turned white and won't pop the top any longer, it needs to be manually pulled open. Was kind of disappointed as my daughter isn't that hard on things and has dropped her Foogo sippy tons of times and it just has one tiny dent on it.

Any suggestions on what I should do?

adrienne said...

Laura-

We also got a Hello Kitty Funtainer to do a review of the new style.

It's a different plastic than the first generation Funtainer and the Foogo (which are both labeled with the recycling #5).

Literally the first time we were using it, I twisted the lid without having it snapped shut (it wasn't a violent motion; it's something the old Funtainers don't have any problem with). The flip top part cracked at the back. I'd been seeing parents writing about lid failure for about a month now, and couldn't figure it out. I now wonder if the new plastic on the revised Funtainer is to blame.

I plan on calling customer service and recommend you do the same. Let me know how it turns out.

Megadharma said...

I did contact customer service via email, and they had me send the cup in for replacement. I haven't received the new cup yet, but in the meantime, Walmart started carrying the Foogo straw cup online again, so I ordered one of those. The Foogo straw cup is more streamlined, and the lid attachment seems much more sturdy. I have actually dropped this cup many times and it's still in great shape. I like the fact that if your cup breaks, they will replace it. It makes it worth the $15 that you shell out! Of course, now that my daughter had all of these cool cups (one Foogo sippy, one Kleen Kanteen and one Foogo straw), she only wants to use the old plastic ones that we keep in the cupboard for "emergencies"!! Ah, two year olds!!

angelia said...

erm.. so which is actually better? a Funtainer or Foogo, for a 4 yr old?

and, can we actually put WARM water in the Funtainer/Foogo? Or does it only keep cold water?

adrienne said...

angelia:

In terms of function, I like both pretty much equally for a 4 year old (we use them both with almost 3 year old Ranger). The Foogo is slightly easier to wash and has a lower choking risk (no short straw) for tiny kiddos (though it is quite a feat thanks to a vacuum fit to get that short straw off).

There's a new edition of FUNtainer that I'll be reviewing later this week (Thursday 7/17 if all goes well). It's an interesting hybrid of the two containers shown here.

As for warm liquids the container seems able to retain heat as well as cool, but it's an off-label use. Thermos recommends the use with cold liquids; probably because it's a straw bottle and hot liquids through a straw are dangerous. It's essentially a steel vacuum insulated Thermos, so unless the inner straw melts under sustained heat(which would surprise me as I wash with high temperature water), I don't see why it wouldn't retain heat as it does cold. Of course, I'd never recommend drinking a hot beverage from such a container because of a stupid childhood attempt to drink hot chocolate through a straw (very dumb idea resulting in serious burns and a newfound love for tepid chocolate).

Anonymous said...

I noticed when shopping for my 1st grader that Funtainers recommend hand washing, while Foogo says it is dishwasher safe. This is important to me and a huge time saver at the end of a busy day with 3 kids:)

Momto3LittleFlowers said...

I just bought the food jar and drink bottle for my girls (two of each for both), and I really appreciate this review.... I posted a comment about it on my blog, but I will be linking to you when I do my first review about it. Thanks!

kc said...

I wonder if they saw your review and modified the funtainer beverage and food container.

There is no short straw anymore, and it's closer to the foogo design but not quite. It doesn't have the extra "lip" I guess you'd call it that the foogo does, but it's a flat disk and it does connect completely through the lid to the upper straw.

The funtainer food container looks almost identical to the foogo (even has the wavy looking edge on the lower portion of the lid. I held it up to the screen and it looks very much like the foogo on the outside and inside (with the exception of the pictures on it).

They must have upgraded the funtainers to make it function more like the foogos.

KC said...

I just bought the funtainers today, and I think they upgraded the funtainers to function more like the foogos. There is a single unit for the top straw - no short straw anymore, though it's not quite the same on the underside. It's a flat disk rather than having the "lip" to it.

Also the food containers look more like the foogo container in your picture rather than the funtainer. I can't tell how much they weigh, though, but I'm curious if they've made it lighter too.

I couldn't purchase the foogo in the Target store, so instead I got the funtainer. Hopefully, with the new design, the funtainer will function as good as the foogo.

dameDonna said...

I didn't see anyone mention this...
The reason they recommend hand washing the FUNtainers is because the paint will eventually come off, leaving either a blotchy design or just plain stainless steel. We bought a bottle brush to wash the base and put the top and straw pieces in the DW.

We LOVE our FUNtainers. The first one we got (Hello Kitty @ Target) has a different top than either mentioned on this site. It's closer to the Foogo one, but without the extra blue part shown. I really prefer that one because we're never forgetting the straw top or O rings (which I didn't knew came out until it was leaking all over the place).

The only thing that upsets me is how fragile the plastic seems to be. For a $15 cup, the bottom and hinge should not crack so easily. Hopefully this is something they will address in the near future.

adrienne said...

Hi DameDonna-

Please visit our updated review on the Funtainer. We had problems with the same Hello Kitty Funtainer's plastic:

http://babytoolkit.blogspot.com/2008/07/funtainer-and-foogo-next-generation-of.html

stephanie said...

Hi,
You can tell the difference between the new funtainers and the older funtainers by the push button opener. The older (smaller straw assembly) has a flat, skinny push button. While the newer (safer straw) has a round dime-sized push button.

I have put mine in the top of the dishwasher, with fine results. However, my hubby, put some in the bottom...and the sticker around the stainless (character Dora) started to melt. The stainless was fine, but the picture was blotchy.

I only handwash the plastic straws and lid.

Clearance Sale at Office Depot: you can find the older style (older kid style) funtainers for $7.50 a piece.

Hope all is well,
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

I just bought 3 Foogo Bottle from 3 different Target store.

I just notice now, that mine does not come with the blue cover in the inside to seal the white cap. See the 3rd pictures.

Does anyone have the same problem, I'm missing the blue cap. Or, if you bought one and you have the blue cap, please let me know. I will call Foogo and find out...

howard.linh@gmail.com


Thanks!

adrienne said...

Hi Howard-

You actually got the new style of Foogo and FUNtainer. Please see our review on those revised versions from August 2008.

:)

Anonymous said...

My 3 year old daughter BIT through the foogo straw on the first day she received it.
Haven't been able to find replacement parts online.

adrienne said...

anonymous:

Back in May 2007 we talked to Thermos who confirmed that Foogo straw bottle replacement parts will be available for purchase through Thermos' Customer Service Number (1-800-831-9242) starting in August, 2007.

The replacement straws are probably around $1/each now (though I haven't checked the price this year).

Anonymous said...

FYI - Funtainer bottles are on clearance at Target for $3.74!

Anonymous said...

The straw tip fell off my foogo when I put the lid back on after the 2nd use. What a choking hazard! I want my money back and will contact them.

Tracy said...

Does anyone know if the new Funtainer Food Jars with the slimmer lid weigh much less? We have the old style Funtainer and the old black food jar. I was contemplating whether to get my 5 year old the new style Funtainer or the Foogo food jar for kindergarten.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

in Canada, call 18006697065 for free replacement straws and uppers for the Foogo and the Funtainer thermos.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the note on where to call in Canada for a replacement spout. I just called and they're sending me 2 spouts for free!

Angela said...

I have one Foogo and one Funtainer for each of my kids (so far) and I love them both! I actually think the Funtainer straw assembly is easier to clean, though, but that's just me.

My ONLY complaint is that my son was actually able to break the bottom off of his blue Foogo (the blue "rim" or whatever on the bottom of the cup). He dropped it one too many times, apparently. I am thinking I will call Thermos and see what they have to say. I tried super-gluing it back on to no avail. So, it's not safe to say that these cups are unbreakable...perhaps the inside and main body, but clearly the bottoms of the Foogos can break off.

Dee said...

Thank you for this review. I was very close to buying a Funtainer with the cute Hello Kitty for my 10 month old and instead will stick with the Foogo to match her sippy cup. By all appearances they were the same and Thermos didnt spell out the differences on their website. Kudos.

Preety said...

ordered two sets of straws for $5 including shipping.18008319242

Anonymous said...

have this bottle for my kids. But they chew on the straws and admit its nice and tempting. The disclaimer instructions say do not let your child chew the straw.... which child doesn't? but other than this, its a good keep warm or cold bottle