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Ellen Lee's East Bay Livin'

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Will Taste Food for Money

I gave my two cents on a test product this evening for the National Food Laboratory in Dublin.

Because I signed a confidentiality agreement, I can't give details on what I tried out. But here's how it works:

A few years ago I signed up on a whim to be a taste tester on the laboratory's Web site. Since then I've gotten a call about once every several months.

Each time, the laboratory asks me a series of questions and if I pass that part (I haven't always), I am asked to come in to the laboratory's Dublin office.

That was tonight. After filling out some paper work (my age demographic, my buying habits), a woman in a white lab coat escorted me into a small, narrow room. I sat down in a partitioned cubicle, in front of something like a roll top desk or a metal bread box. This connected to another room with the researchers. It opened up and inside was a tray, a survey, the sample, and a cup of water and a saltine cracker to cleanse my palette. Once I was done trying the first product, I put it back inside, closed the lid and flipped a switch to alert the researcher I was finished. Then the researcher re-filled the tray with another sample and sent it through the metal bread box.

The entire process took about 15 to 20 minutes, and I was rewarded with $15 in cash. Clearly, I'm not going to get rich being a taste tester, but it's sort of fun if you have the time. You never know what you could be trying and how you could make a little difference in how a product ends up.


Blogger awh said...

Do you have the contact info for this Taste Testing Place?

Also do you have a "email this blog entry" function so i can email to my friend in Pleasanton?

8:44 AM  
Blogger Ellen Lee said...

I've updated the post to include a link to the National Food Laboratory's web site: The sign up form is online.
Unfortunately, we don't have the ability yet to e-mail a blog entry (though you can e-mail stories from the Times Web site). Hopefully, that will change soon. Thanks for the suggestion!

12:14 PM  
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7:17 AM  

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