The Ohio State University tastes success in just about everything they do. From football to academics, OSU ranks high and has earned the respect and honors they have received. Based on campus, the taste of success is tested daily at the Wilbur A. Gould Food Industries Center. This is one of Ohio’s finest laboratories for taste testing food products before they are marketed to consumers.
Ohio has long been a place of excellence in the food industry and a test market for many other products and services as well. OSU has participated in sensory research since 1982, teaching and training students and taste testing sauces, dips, fast food and coffee. As a part of the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Science, the Gould Center works as a department of the Food Science and Technology program.
The program manager of the sensory evaluation division is Melody Leidheiser. She has been leading the department since 2008, overseeing taste testing research and working with local and statewide companies and products. Donning her white lab coat, Leidheiser can now be spotted in a commercial for Speedway coffee. The well known gas station in the Midwest and Southeast US, hired OSU for taste testing for their newest blend of coffee.
Another important figure in the successful department is Dr. Ken Lee. Lee, a professor in the department of Food Science and Technology, was the recent recipient of the 2014 Harold Macy Award. Macy was a founding member of the Institute of Food Technologists. The award recognizes achievement and the continuation of progress and excellence in the food science program.
OSU is just one of over 1,000 food testing sites in the state of Ohio. The sensory evaluation centers focus on more than nutrition and calories. Taste tests on food and beverages can earn volunteers $3.00 to $5.00 or a small gift card for their time and rating. Completing a long list of factors such as taste, smell, texture and visual appeal is most important to a company’s end product. Serving samples at the proper temperature and taking presentation and packaging into consideration, ensures the success of the product in question. Final results can make or break a product and testing is ongoing until all phases are met with satisfaction.
Ohio is the perfect location for market testing and specifically in Columbus. The population is extremely diverse with many cultures and incomes. The students of OSU are known for being trend setters, and as a result many businesses and products get their start with their honest opinions and evaluations.
Businesses depend on such centers as the one housed at The Ohio State University. Sensory perception entails all evaluation of sight, smell, taste, feel and hearing. The senses transmit good vibes when it comes to a tasty food item and satisfied consumers transfer dollars into profits for companies. Even hearing the crunch in their mouth or the package opening, entices consumers to want more. May it be a fast food restaurant, mom and pop operation with their own line of sauces and dips, or just nuts, energy bars or coffee, taste testing proves success in the end.
Ohio is the heart of it all when it comes to business, tourism and sports. The simple taste test can go a long way to providing happy consumers and successful commerce. Ohio State University is a good place to start tasting the success of research and achievement, watch a great game while enjoying a stadium hot dog, or grab a cup of coffee from Speedway on your way to work.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon