Controlling the variables
Unlike a marketing panel, sensory science test subjects are treated very clinically. Tasters’ reactions are meant to guide Rauen and her peers to concrete reasons for the food’s flavor profile, rather than be taken as one person’s opinion about whether a food is appealing.
“Sensory is not an inconsiderate science -- you have to take into account everyone around you, smells, tastes, all of that stuff. It isn’t just us throwing something at a consumer and saying ‘Here you go, try this,’” says Rauen.
To achieve this, her research area has a lot of high-tech measures to isolate the food from outside influence. The room is reinforced by positive air pressure, so that anything being cooked elsewhere in the lab won’t waft into someone’s nostrils via the tasting room’s A/C vents.