Job for chocolate and candy taster takes more than a sweet tooth

Amie Tsang
A Mondelez plant in India that opened last year. The company, which makes Cadbury chocolates and Oreo cookies, has received 4,000 applications for two part-time taste-testing jobs.
Arun Sankar | Getty Images

Reading, England — Some people like to take a break from work with a quick bite of chocolate. But what if a quick bite of chocolate was your work?

That is the opportunity being offered by Mondelez, the company that makes Cadbury chocolates and Oreo cookies and is hiring part-time tasters to test its products.

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At first glance, the job description could hardly be better: Get paid to taste candy, chocolate and cookies. More than 4,000 applicants have submitted resumes for just two openings since the roles were advertised and promoted on social media.

But, Mondelez insists, those hoping for an easy opportunity to stuff their faces — for money, at least — should think again.

Applicants must go through three days of vetting at the company's consumer research center in this city just outside London. The process calls for them to spend two and a half hours a day having their taste buds put to the test, as they try to join around 60 tasters who already work for Mondelez.

It's no easy task.

An employee monitors foil-wrapped Cadbury Creme Eggs as they move along the production line at the Bournville Cadbury factory, operated by Mondelez International Inc., in Birmingham, U.K.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The testing is done in so-called sensory booths, where red-tinged lights mask differences in the appearance of various chocolates, leaving applicants to focus on taste and smell. Air pressure in the booths is controlled so that smells are automatically sucked upward and away.

Three plastic cups are passed through a small hatch in the booth, each one holding a small amount of chocolate. Applicants must discern which one tastes most like the reference sample.

Between batches — the process puts applicants through 20 rounds of tasting — tasters must wait two minutes and cleanse their palates with crackers and water before moving on.

Reviews are scientific and clinical — saying you like a particular kind of chocolate is not enough, and even terms like "caramel" are discouraged (Mondelez technicians prefer tasters be able to name the constituent parts of caramel).

Many applicants are unable to even differentiate between certain flavors, according to Dr. Afsha Chugtai, who oversees projects at the research center.

This is not the first time the job has been advertised, but Mondelez's decision to promote the openings on social media left it inundated with applications.

The job typically attracts a range of applicants, but many are mothers drawn by a flexible work schedule and an expectation that new hires will work 7.5 hours a week.

Caroline Robbins, who left a job in retail banking to have a baby when she saw an advertisement for the position, was herself once an aspiring taster.

Now a technician at the research center, Ms. Robbins recalled of her application, "I just couldn't believe it, that there was an advert for a chocolate taster."

This piece originally appeared in The New York Times.

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