This Guy's Whole Job Is Tasting Ice Cream for Ben & Jerry's
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Day in and day out, Eric Fredette eats ice cream for a living.
"I have the best job in the whole world," he said in the latest episode of Thrillist's new "Job Goals" series on Facebook Watch. Fredette is a Ben & Jerry's flavor guru, meaning he's literally one of the people who invents insane Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors like Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia. He's responsible for conceptualizing new flavors and figuring out ways to excite Ben & Jerry's loyal fan base. It's a lot more work than you might think, involving hours upon hours of researching, tasting, mixing, and refining recipes. Oh, and having an endless supply of free ice cream.
"I go to the grocery store, and I look at the freezer case, and I go that one's mine, that one's mine, that one's mine," he said, although he admits you probably won't find much in his freezer at home. A few of the flavors that he's personally overseen include Rockin' Blondies, PB&J, Peanut Butter Half-Baked, Brownie Batter Core, and Chocolate Therapy. He's serious about his work and can recall tales of each of the flavors he's worked on, both the good and the bad.
"There are definitely some flavors that I thought would be amazing that didn't really work out," he said. "Peanuts and Popcorn is probably a really good example." The idea, Fredette said, was to infuse ice cream with the flavors of caramel corn and toffee peanuts, like Cracker Jacks. The problem: "A couple weeks and popcorn gets soggy -- not so good." When it's clear that one of his flavors needs to be laid to rest, a funeral is held in Ben & Jerry's flavor graveyard, complete with a benediction from Fredette.
While some flavors can prove to be misfires, others can be extremely successful, so all of Fredette's work happens in extreme secrecy. "I don't tell people what I'm working on," he said, not even his wife. "I bring home all the new stuff, and it's like a surprise when I bring it home, so it's much better that way."
Crafting all these flavors and sticking them into creamy, cold concoctions involves pulling from a lot of different source material. In order to come up with them, Fredette reads food blogs and magazines all the time, keeps abreast of cutting-edge trends, and looks at new restaurant openings for inspiration. He and Ben & Jerry's also seed much of their flavors from write-in suggestions offered by fans with their own ideas.
"Everyone has an idea," Fredette said. "We get some of our best ideas from people just off the cuff, saying: This would be really cool in ice cream! Chunky Monkey, Chubby Hubby, Cherry Garcia -- all fan write-ins."
Maybe that means you too can be a flavor guru one day.
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