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The Coolest Job in Town

November 08, 1995|KATHLEEN DOHENY

The work's not hard and the rewards are sweet.

That's the bottom line for the 3,500 young members of the Candy Taster Club, a volunteer market research group recruited by Amurol Confections Co. in suburban Chicago. (Sorry, but you have to live within a 20-mile radius of the plant to be considered for a tasting job.)

Since the 1980s, the company has gone straight to the source--8- to 14-year-olds--to find out which candy and gum products are cool and which ones miss the mark. Each taster is usually called upon three or four times a year to taste a new product or to evaluate new packaging.

There's no cash pay, but everyone leaves with a goody bag.

"In the early days, we put some ads in newspapers," says Jenny Courtney, Amurol's market research manager. "We don't have to do that anymore." Word-of-mouth keeps the applications coming, usually 10 a week but sometimes as many as 60. There's a high turnover rate as families move and kids get older and busier.

Beyond the obvious--a love of sugar--kids have to live nearby so they're available to taste the next big thing in candy.

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