What candy companies (maybe Willy Wonka) used grade school kids as "candy testers"? And what was that all about?
November 13, 2012 11:02 AM Subscribe
Was my elementary school the only one that did regular "candy testing" focus groups? Is there any information out there about who and what this program was?
posted by AgentRocket to grab bag (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I went to a Catholic grade school through 8th grade, in south suburban St. Louis. I graduated in the early 90s.
I can remember at least a few occasions where we had "candy testing" in our school gym. A handful of kids in each grade would be chosen to be the candy testers, and throughout the day they would be called down, grade by grade, to participate. I was somewhat of teachers' pet and got to do it more than once. I remember that everybody knew that it was candy testing day and was excited and hoped to be picked. It was a big deal around the school.
We'd go to the gym and there would be several tables set up. They'd give us a handful of candy and we'd eat it right there. Then they'd ask us a bunch of "on a scale of 1-5" questions about it. For instance, they'd say "how likely would you be to buy this" or "how would you rate the color of the candy" and similar. I very specifically remember that this was my introduction to answer choices like "very likely, somewhat likely, neither likely nor unlikely," etc. We'd repeat the process for several different products.
I seem to remember that the candy was not in wrappers or if it was it was not commercially wrapped. And I also think that the candy was not yet released to the public (because what got me thinking of this question was a blob of orange taffy-like stuff that was THE BEST but that I never could find after I ate it that day). And it was not chocolate but instead was Willy Wonka-type stuff.
I always just assumed that this sort of thing was widespread at grade schools, but Google teaches me nothing. In talking to friends and my wife about it they think I must be imagining the whole thing. I know that Sunline Brands was based in St. Louis, and they invented SweeTarts and Sprees and Tangy Taffy and Lik-M-Aid and Tart n Tinys (several of which are now Wonka branded items under Nestle). So maybe they had something to do with it. Maybe a mom or dad in marketing there had a kid at our school and struck a deal with the principal.
So, did anyone else have a similar experience as a kid? Alternatively, does anyone know anything about "use schoolkids as candy testers" programs? I'd love to better understand what I was doing and how common it was.