Slice of Life: I Was a Paid Food Tester

(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Ice cream blues

I never thought I would ever say this but I hate ice cream right now. I suspect that strong emotion will soon pass. Not yet, though. Right now, my stomach is still aching from being part of a market-research, paid-taste-testing group last night for a regional family restaurant chain (I don’t know if I should name them … I didn’t sign any confidentiality agreements … let’s just say they were very, eh, friendly to us tasters … if you live in the Northeast, you can figure it out.)

My wife signed us both up for the session, as parents of children (their target audience) which we joked was our way to have a date for free and leave the kids behind. But we could not sit near each other nor talk to each other during the 90 minutes of food and ice cream tasting. So, not much of a date night ambiance. But they paid us in the cold hard cash, so the real date will come later …

We began with half-sized portions off the dinner menu, with a turkey burger (yum), a salad (yum), and some bbq steak sandwich (not yum). We used ipods to give our impressions, and then the leader of the market session led a discussion.

When we got to the ice cream part of the night, we were all giddy and ready … I mean, free ice cream? … but after the fifth cup of ice cream (small portions, true, but they were all sundaes), I was ready to retire from the ice cream business. But then a sixth cup came. And then a seventh. Ten cups of ice cream to be consumed after a long day at school, and the adults around the room were all in a bit of a sugar rush. There were some good cups to taste (anything with peanut butter is OK with me) and some not-so-good ones (one blue ice cream had cake bits in it, with sprinkles and other gooey things and it was if someone dumped a cup of sugar down my throat … gross).

It was definitely an interesting experience to be a Professional Taste Tester for a night but I am going Ice Cream Cold Turkey for a stretch. I’ll probably change my mind when the warm weather finally arrives. When is that, exactly?

Peace (on the taste buds),


  1. I love your description of this night! You had me hooked as soon as I saw the word “ice cream.” I do hope you are feeling okay right now! You are part of history…okay, well at least that chain’s history…that is so cool! What will you think when you go to Happy’s (trying to keep with the anonymous nature of your post) and see one of those items on the menu? Now, that would be awesome!

  2. How fun! Although I only like peanut butter or coffee flavored things–so the ice cream part would’ve been awful for me. I think I’d like to do something like this!

  3. What a fun adventure and you described it brilliantly- just enough detail to make me forget that I am still full from dinner.

  4. This was so fun to read! specially as I had already sat down with a cup of ice-cream before I opened the post! You have such an eye (or ear) for details, that I a consistently left satisfied, without being overly stuffed. Your posts = yum.

  5. I worked at an ice cream joint in college and can feel your pain. Too bad you and your wife had to sit apart, but at least you can discuss the experience over dinner on your “real” date.

  6. Peanut butter/hot fudge anything works for me.

    antispam | e.g. befoul, i.e. what one should not do to one’s own nest.

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