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Jun. 15, 2005
Taste Panel
Erika, but missing a picture:

Often, when I tell people what my job is, they ask me (jokingly) if I spend my day tasting bars to see if they are good.  Well, the answer to that question is, "YES!  I spend a big portion of nearly every day tasting bars!"  This is what we call the Clif Bar Inc Taste Panel.

Anyway, the taste panel is something that I feel is very important, but I must confess, I get really burnt out on doing it.  Typically, everyone (7 people) in the Research and Development and Quality Assurance departments tastes one bar from each production run.  Considering how many types of bars we make and how many production runs we have, this amounts to a lot of bars, and therefore, a lot of eating!!!  It could be as many as 4 or 5 per day!

Over the years, we have tried different methods of distributing the bars to keep us from hitting the "final and ultimate tastebud burn out".  In one method, the bars were delivered to our desks and we tasted them individually.  This is dangerous because I would often put it off and end up with a stack of about 30 bars to taste all at once!!  It is a good thing that we have a gym on site and are encouraged to work out during the day. wink

Lately, I am enjoying the current method - we all taste and talk about them together as a group.  This makes it more of a social, fun gathering.  Recently, there has been a new component -- "The Special Guest".  We have decided that every week, at the company meeting, we will have a drawing to pick a person to be our special guest taster for the week.  They will be able to choose a day to come and join us in tasting all of the bars.  We will even have a special commemorative organic t-shirt to give them!!  I think that this will be great fun, and it will be fun to get to spend time with someone from the company that we don't see very often.  Most people in the company have no idea just what the taste panel involves, or perhaps that this is something that we even do.  I bet they will develop a new appreciation for all of our refined tastebuds and olfactory senses! 

One last fun incentive we will offer is the opportunity to make art out of Clif Bar products.  When you taste a Clif bar you really only need one or two bites of the bar, leaving you with a lot of excess bars.  I have gotten into the habit of using my extra bars to create Clif-sculptures.  It is amazing the things you can create with Clif products, they stick together perfectly to make all kinds of shapes!  My thought is that the guest taster would get to choose the sculpture that they like and we will dip it into shellac and it can become a trophy, of sorts.

Here is a picture of a Clif sculpture that I made last week.
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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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