Is it true that you can create any flavour imaginable?
I have worked on many flavours across all of our products and I will say that some are more difficult than others. I always try to have a positive mindset and tell myself that anything is possible – “The greater the challenge, the bigger the success!”
What’s the biggest challenge in creating a new flavour?
The biggest challenge for me personally, is to create flavours that everyone will enjoy.
How did Salted Lime come into being? Take us through a quick overview of the steps in creating the flavour.
Salted Lime started with us creating a flavour that would help athletes fuel during the challenging Western States Endurance Run where the conditions are extremely hot and dry. We knew that we needed to create a flavour that would benefit athletes competing in this environment. After an internal brainstorm session we ended up testing 5 different flavour concepts – Salted Lime, Watermelon Lime, Blood Orange Lemonade, Strawberry Hibiscus and Raspberry Lemon. We turned to the Western States community for feedback and at the end a thirst quenching flavour with a delicate combination of elevated sea salt and tangy lime was the result. After endless hours of perfecting the flavour we took the initial prototypes into the field to test with our small group of 'super tasters'.
Was the flavour tasty right from the start or did you have to iterate on it?
Not at all. It takes countless hours working to prefect a gel flavour, but this is where I excel and really love what I do! I made many different versions of Salted Lime before I was happy with the result. After that, we tested the flavour with small group of 'super tasters', who loved it!
What’s your favourite flavour you’ve worked on?
This is a really difficult question because I have worked on so many great flavours! The flavour that stands out to me the most is Hoppy Trails. This was passion project because I love a good IPA and thought it would be fun to make a beer inspired energy gel with bitter flavour notes.
Have you ever made a flavour that really tasted awful?
Yes. Too many to count.
How did you get this job anyway?
I graduated from college in 2009 with a degree in Nutrition & Food Science. I knew that I wanted to work for a company that would align with my education, interests and skills. I was familiar with GU going back to high school because my dad ran marathons and was a triathlete. I reached out to GU with the interest in working on their R&D team. Unfortunately at the time, they didn’t have any R&D positions available, but did have an open customer service position. I thought that this would be a great way to learn more about all of GU’s products and hopefully find my way into the R&D department. After about 6 months in customer service, I heard that the R&D associate was leaving to pursue graduate school. I knew that this was my opportunity to move into R&D, so I immediately met with HR to let be known that I was interested in interviewing for the open R&D role. After that, I interviewed with the head of the R&D department and got the job! Over the 11+ years (almost 12) have advanced my career from an entry level - R&D technical associate to now being the product development manager, where I am responsible for developing the full portfolio of products that GU offers. GU is amazing company to work for and after all these years, I still get excited about my work.