Hometown: Somerset, WI
Major/Minor: Food Science & Technology
Position Title: Retail Test Kitchen Intern
Internship Site: Land O'Lakes, Inc
Many people know Land O'Lakes for their butter and not much else, but as an intern in their Retail Test Kitchen, I was able to develop an understanding of the entire breadth of their cooperative. As a member-owned cooperative, Land O'Lakes strives to produce the most quality products that benefit both their consumers and members. In the Test Kitchens, I was able to support this mission in a variety of different ways.
First, I was very involved in the new product development process. As a whole, the Test Kitchen serves as the eyes and hands of the consumer during this process. From the very inception of a product concept, my team was able to provide valuable consumer insights. I worked on innovation projects for several different new products where I was able to provide research on consumer data and food trends. Additionally, I conducted several different market assessments, where I actually went out into several different marketplaces to see what consumers had available to them in certain product categories and the messaging around those products. Finally, I conducted application testing of new products to test their performance in a kitchen setting to mimic consumer use in the home.
One of my largest duties, and perhaps most exciting, was recipe testing! Landolakes.com is home to nearly 5000 recipes, and each quarter the Test Kitchen adds new recipes to that collection. These are recipes that are developed in the Test Kitchen and then thoroughly tested to ensure strong, fail-proof recipes every time. During my internship, I was able to test over 30 different recipes, ranging from Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas cookies to pie, cakes, and just about everything in between. Land O'Lakes utilizes a rigorous testing procedure that involves precise measurements and documentation, as well as taste panels to evaluate the final recipe as a whole. This not only strengthened my skills and confidence in the kitchen, but also stretched my food science and ingredient knowledge and expanded my ability to describe and evaluate products in a culinary manner. At the end of this process, I was able to participate in the final recipe photography shoot, allowing me to experience the entire life cycle of a recipe, from concept to publication.
The final area that I was able to support was in content creation. In addition to recipes, Land O'Lakes also publishes articles and other forms of social media content for consumers to utilize. I was given the task of researching buttercream frosting and using that information to create content for their social channels. In my research, I found that there were over six different varieties of buttercream frosting with very different structural and functional properties. Further research led me to develop four new buttercream recipes for the Landolakes.com site and then to the application and stress testing of each of these recipes. Through research and tests, I was able to produce some interesting findings, such as which buttercream is best for frosting, flavoring, coloring, and standing up to high temperatures. This information will be used to create a buttercream frosting guide for the Landolakes.com site.
As a whole, this experience has been nothing short of a dream for me. I have always love baking, cooking, experimenting, and just being in the kitchen. This unique opportunity at Land O'Lakes gave me the chance to combine these passions of mine with my major. Everyday was different, working with new products, new teams, or new recipes, providing me with such a wide breadth of experiences for my future in the food industry. And lots of tasty new treats to try along the way!