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Tester for Edy’s ice cream recruiting kids with taste |

Tester for Edy’s ice cream recruiting kids with taste

| Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:00 a.m

As official taste tester for Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, John Harrison has the sweetest job in America.

He will be at Giant Eagle in Robinson Township today from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. as part of Edy’s nationwide search for kids who want a taste of Harrison’s cool career.

Kids make perfect critics because, according to Harrison, they’re the biggest consumers of ice cream.

‘I’ll be talking ice cream with kids, the No. 1 per capita consumption group of ice cream, helping Edy’s plan for the future,’ Harrison says.

Ten kids from across the United States will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Edy’s Ice Cream Factory in the San Francisco Bay area to demonstrate their tasting talent. The trip will include a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory, a lesson on tasting tips from Harrison and an opportunity to sample dozens of ice cream flavors during a marathon tasting session. Each child also will receive a year’s supply of ice cream.

During his career, Harrison, who has roots in the industry that run four generations deep, has tasted more than a million gallons of ice cream and still has trouble saying no to vanilla.

‘You can’t beat a good bowl of vanilla bean,’ he says.

And what would vanilla be without chocolate•

Vanilla/Chocolate is one of the new Edy’s flavors Harrison is introducing to Pittsburgh while he’s in town. He’ll also test the quality of new palate pleasers Pecan Praline Sundae, Fudge ‘N Cups, Scooby Snack, Cracker Jack Peanut and Toffee Crunch, and a no-sugar-added Neapolitan.

These flavors are a few on a long list of treats sold by Edy’s, which has expanded its distribution to become the leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of premium ice cream in the United States. Edy’s Grand Ice Cream is marketed as Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream west of Colorado.

Regardless of what state he’s in, Harrison admits to buying back $300 worth of ice cream a week to check production quality – using his gold spoon (which prevents residual aftertaste) and 9,000 taste buds, which are insured for $1 million.

To protect his money makers, Harrison stays away from spicy and hot foods during the week, doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke, and imbibes herbal tea every morning to cleanse his palate. Caffeine is a no-no because it will clog the taste buds.

And while he gets paid to taste America’s favorite treats, the drawback is that he has to spit them out.

‘I call it the three S’s. That stands for swirl, smack and spit,’ he says. ‘I take a small amount right off the top and cover all 9,000 taste buds. Then I aerate it, smacking the lips and bringing in the room temperature, warming it up some more and driving that top bouquet up to the olfactory nerve. After I roll it around for four or five seconds, I spit it out.’

Harrison will share his methods and tasting tips with the children he meets today and admits that he feels just as young sometimes.

‘I’m a 59-year-old kid,’ he says. ‘When it comes to ice cream, we all are.’

Candy Gola can be reached at (412) 320-7988 or .

Be an ice cream taster

Kids are invited to enter the Kid Ice Cream Taster Contest by submitting a short ‘job application’ (500 words or less) explaining ‘Why I would be a great ice cream taster.’

Contestants must be residents of the United States and between the ages of 6 and 14 as of May 1, 2001.

Submissions can be made at or sent directly to: Kid Ice Cream Taster Contest, Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, 5929 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618. All entries must be postmarked or dated if sent online by Aug. 31, 2001.

Ten winners will be selected based on creativity, originality and enthusiasm. Winners will be notified by mid-September. In early October, each winner and up to three family members will be invited to the Edy’s Ice Cream Factory in Union City, Calif., to ‘scoop up’ their reward.

Details: .

Ice Cream Tasting Tips

The three styles of ice cream – Super Premium, Premium and Economy – are categorized by the type of ingredients (all natural or artificial) and the amount of butterfat. John Harrison of Edy’s Grand Ice Cream gets paid to know the difference. Here, he shares his experience.

Body and texture: Using a spoon, scrape a small sample off the surface of the ice cream (make sure ice cream has tempered for approximately 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature – the best-tasting ice cream is at a temperature of 0 to 8 degrees). Invert the spoon so the ice cream goes directly onto the taste buds. Coat the tongue and roll the ice cream around, smacking the lips and allowing air to reach the sample. The sample should be smooth and creamy. Defects to feel for are: coarse/icy, fluffy, soggy, crumbly, gummy or weak.

Flavor: Vanilla ice cream should have a clean dairy taste with a good vanilla flavor that is subtle but not overpowering. Flavored ice cream should be well balanced between the fresh cream, sweeteners and the flavoring material.

– Candy Gola

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