July is (at least unofficially) National Ice Cream Month, so we thought it would be a good time to tell the story of a guy who got to try hundreds of millions of gallons of ice cream.
His name is John Harrison, and while he’s not the only person who’s ever worked as an ice cream taster, he may be the most well known one.
Food tasting is an important part of the industry.
If you want people to buy what you’re selling, you have to make sure it’s appealing.
Harrison’s family has been in ice cream for over a century.
His great grandfather had run an ice cream parlor, his grandpa had run a dairy co-op and his dad had an ice cream place as well.
He became head taste tester for Dreyer’s in 1980 and spent the next three decades on the job.
Harrison said his taste buds weren’t better than everyone else’s, just better trained.
Whether it was natural ability or experience, Harrison’s taste buds could do a lot.
The Hustle reports he could tell the difference between 11.5 percent milkfat and 12 percent, and that at one point his taste buds were insured for a million dollars.
Harrison said taste testing involved other senses, too.
For example, if a batch of ice cream didn’t look appetizing, it likely didn’t taste good either.
The scent and the texture mattered as well.
Some of his other top-drawer taste testing tips: let the ice cream warm up a bit before trying it, so you don’t get brain freeze.
Also: use a metal spoon, because wood and plastic spoons leave an aftertaste.
And with 60 samples to try on a typical work day, you’ll end up spitting most of it out instead of eating it out right.
But not always.
Harrison once said he’d gained a little weight with all that ice cream, but then who would trust a skinny ice cream tester?
In Brooklyn, an animal rescue group got a report of a kitten stuck in somebody’s car engine.
Maybe “stuck” wasn’t the right word, because they found a way to coax it back out.
They played kitten sounds on a smartphone, and the kitty got curious and got out of the car.
Appropriately enough, the engine kitten has been named Ginny.