Understandably, there is some point in life where getting paid to stuff your face with chips might sound like a desirable thing. For most people, this point quickly passes. A former professional frozen food taster tells all in a gross and engrossing interview at The Billfold.
Matthew is a 24-year-old freelance illustrator who picked up a job as a "sensory panelist" through a temp agency. After getting his palate ready in a byzantine training process, he spent his days chomping on chips, Chinese food, jalapeno poppers, and all manners of frozen food. Here's some details on how it went.
On having a mouthful of animal bile:
To cut corners with cheese products companies sometimes use the acids from cheese production instead of the more expensive cheese products, and these acids are basically bile from different animals (a food scientist might have a more nuanced view). So sometimes we'd be spitting out these inexpensive cheese products all day, and your mouth would just be full of this vomit bile taste.
On the blisters:
I'd come home with huge blisters in my mouth from the salt. Yeah, fried food doesn't have the same appeal anymore. And the other amazing thing is seeing the whole world behind literally every product we consume. Every aspect of the foods, taste, appearance, texture, is so insanely focus grouped and tested. Every major food company has a similar testing process.
On comparing chips to cardboard:
We'd test [the chips] at different intervals to see how the taste changed once they were taken out of the fryer, or how micro-waving them would affect their texture. One aromatic that was fun to pick out was "cardboard"—an actual aromatic on the ballot—and to compare we had cups of water with brown paper towels in them.
Read the whole disgusting, fascinating interview at The Billfold—and maybe skip the chips next time you're out to eat.
Top image: Hong Vo/Shutterstock