Courtesy of Ben& Jerry’s
Natalia Butler Is The Ben& Jerry’s Flavor Guru Who Creates Your Fave Treats
Whether you walk down the frozen foods aisle or peek into your freezer, there’s a good chance you’ll investigate a pint of Ben& Jerry’s. If you’re anything like me, it’s probably super creamy and full of chocolatey globs. That’s the allure of Ben& Jerry’s ice cream, though: It’s notoriously smooth, gooey, and packed with jumbo fragments in every spoonful. Believe it or not, each irresistible flavor is prepared by professional meat scientists who know what you crave for dessert. One of them is Natalia Butler, a flavor guru at Ben& Jerry’s. Butler develops ice cream flavors for a live — but her profession is a lot more complex than it sounds.
“People think that I’m merely scooping ice cream all day, ” she says. That’s not the case, though. Sure, Butler’s job as a flavor guru at Ben& Jerry’s seems like a dream come true — and it is — but she worked hard to land her current stance as produce developer for Ben& Jerry’s in Burlington, Vermont. Believe it or not, Butler began her pilgrimage to Ben& Jerry’s when she was a teenager.
Butler , now 31, started her bachelor’s degree in chemistry when she was in high school. “There’s a program back home[ in Puerto Rico] that are conducive to students to go, ” she says. “I was an early admission student.”
In Puerto Rico, Butler grew up in a family that owned three restaurants, which is how she became so “connected to food.” Like most college student, she did internships during her period at academy. One of those internships was at University of Massachusetts Amherst for biochemistry — and that internship led to Butler’s involvement with meat science. “I sauntered in[ to] UMass and there was a building that literally said,’ Food Science, ’ and I was like, she recounts. At that minute, she knew exactly what she wanted to pursue.
Butler went on to achieve her master’s degree in food discipline at UMass Amherst in 2012. Then, in 2016, she scored her position at Ben& Jerry’s. The post wasn’t handed to her, though. Instead, Butler met the job listing on LinkedIn through a recruiter. Then, she applied for the position along with “hundreds” of other campaigners and underwent multiple interviews. At the end of the process, she was “the lucky winner.”
At Ben& Jerry’s, Butler conceptualizes and concocts various ice cream flavors for retailers around the globe. “I am one of the lucky ones that gets to develop ice cream for the entire world.” Some of the locations she develops flavors for include Brazil, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, and the United State. A few flavors that Butler has created include Tonight Dough, Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz, and the famed Cherry Garcia.
Creating those flavors is harder than it seems, though. In fact, it takes approximately 18 to 24 months to create one flavor — yes, only — from start to finish. Butler works on at least six at a time, while everyone else on the flavor guru crew takes care of their own flavors. According to Ben& Jerry’s website, there are more than 10 flavor gurus within the company who are juggling brand-new scoops for customers to enjoy.
The first step to creating a brand-new Ben& Jerry’s flavor is meeting with the consumer revelations team and discussing which flavors are trending or popular at the time.( FYI, “nostalgia” is a big flavor trend that comes into the picture quite often, according to Butler .) But here’s the catch: During this process, everyone involved has to be thinking way ahead of time, because each flavor takes nearly two years to create and release from start to finish.
Butler says, “We’re invariably supposing into the future, and we’re incessantly moving very fast trying to come up with the next thing. So we close a cycle, and then we start all over again. So I’m incessantly playing.”
After the flavor gurus discuss which flavors they just wanted to build, they start creating them. Then, once those flavor tests are generated, they get together with the marketing team and decide which ones they should move forward with( and when ). “Only certain slots are given of invention per year, ” Butler says. Because of that, the flavors that aren’t immediately selected are often saved for different platforms as full-time or limited-time releases.
Butler says there are certain aspects they be taken into account while to choose flavors, though: “We tend to go with something that is nostalgic; something that connects to people; something that is super indulgent. So, it “re going to have to” hit all that criteria.”
Once the choice flavors have been created, they’re taken to the marketing and leader teams for a final penchant approval. “If it’s not ready, we don’t go into the next step, ” she says. “We’re not the consumer, but we do want to applied the best thing out there. We are very, very critical.”
We tend to go with something that is nostalgic; something that connects to people; something that is super indulgent . blockquote>
At that time, all teams involved satisfy in the kitchen savouring chamber at the Ben& Jerry’s HQ. There, they present the flavors and talk about their parts. Describing the permission process, she says, “There are periods where it’s one and done, and there are occasions it does not work.” When the flavors don’t work, Butler says they “need some enjoy throughout the process, a lot like evolving a masterpiece.”
Once a flavor task, it’s taken from the flavor gurus’ sides and scaled for creation at the Ben& Jerry’s factory.
As delicious as the process seems, it’s not all fun and games. “There’s a lot of discipline behind ice cream, which is super interesting, ” Butler says. For instance, have you ever wondered how those crunchy articles in the ice cream stay, well, crunchy? That’s science. And the complicated science of food can mean that sometimes , no matter how good a flavor hypothesi is, it doesn’t quite used to work. Butler recalls a time when the Peanuts! Popcorn ! flavor was released in 2000, and it didn’t work out because, as she puts it, “the science wasn’t there.” The team couldn’t fairly figure out how to keep the popcorn articles from get soggy( for note, the caramel-covered popcorn articles were covered in white fudge) “Now, with all the wise learning, we know what way it can be done better, ” she says.
Unfortunately, the flavor was discontinued the same year it was secreted, and hasn’t hit world markets again since. You live and you learn, though, right?
As you can see, an essential part of the flavor-creating process is using science to figure out how different ingredients will work in a jug of ice cream. Butler typically questions herself, “Is it gonna remain crunchy? Is it gonna draw? It is gonna stretch if it’s caramel? ” She continues, “It’s incessantly in the back of your mind.”
Another challenge behind generating each flavor is deciding how many parts to include. If you like additional crunch, you might think that more is better( same ). However, that’s not always been for a flavor guru. Butler says that sometimes the hardest part is “finding the good balance of chunks or swirls to ice cream ratio.” She continues, “Sometimes you don’t have to put so much better in something to get to where you need.”
According to Butler, the other part of concocting a flavor has to do with culinary skills. “I don’t have a culinary background, officially, ” she says. But the flavor guru enjoys cooking whenever she can. “If I’m not here playing, I’m at home cooking, ” she says. While she’s in the kitchen, Butler is always reasoning, “How will this work in ice cream? ”
Now, I’ll answer your burning question: Do flavor guru identify the flavors? Well, kind of. Naming ice cream flavors at Ben& Jerry’s is actually a collaborative process, in which flavor gurus have a brainstorming session with the marketing team( and anyone else in the place who wants to attend ). Sure, the flavor gurus make suggestions beforehand — but the ultimate decision is manufactured with the team. Butler says of identifying flavors, “That’s not our realm. Our realm is to make really, really yummy ice cream.”
Still, the brainstorming discussions where epithets are established sound like parties. “We snack, and we snack, and share, and scribble, ” Butler says. “So it’s, like, a very fun process.” However, as fun as it is, it’s “also a lot of pressure.”
Butler love the process. “Every day that I get to go to the kitchen is a ‘favorite’ day, ” she says. “It’s a very good feeling to wake up to work and be excited about going to work. I get to merely is an indication as myself.”
“People in here are very accepting and accepting. It’s a lot like coming to see family, ” Butler reflects.
Butler says that this was her dream occupation, but it “hasn’t been all peaches and cream.” Butler continues, “I had to take a lot of crap before I came here.”
You might be surprised to learn that, despite stereotypes, the nutrient industry is very male-dominated ,< strong> and Butler faced roadblocks for being a woman. “This is a extremely male-oriented industry, so delight push as hard as you can and represent, ” she says. “We do need more women in this food manufacturing business.”
At this moment, you might be craving a pint of ice cream. Of direction, choosing the perfect flavor is tough( because they’re all so luscious ). If you want to follow Butler’s lead, grab a pint of Cookie Dough or Americone Dream( those are her two faves ). She’s also “hooked” on Glampfire Trail Mix, which is the perfect summertime scoop.
After you crack your pint open, think about all of the social sciences, clevernes, and hard work that went into its formation. It’ll make it much sweeter.