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.