Is it true that you can create any flavor imaginable?
I have worked on many flavors 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 flavor?
The biggest challenge for me personally, is to create flavors that everyone will enjoy.
How did Salted Lime come into being? Take us through a quick overview of the steps in creating the flavor.
Salted Lime started with us creating a flavor 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 flavor that would benefit athletes competing in this environment. After an internal brainstorm session we ended up testing 5 different flavor 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 flavor with a delicate combination of elevated sea salt and tangy lime was the result. After endless hours of perfecting the flavor we took the initial prototypes into the field to test with our small group of supertasters.
Was the flavor 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 flavor, 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 flavor with small group of supertasters, who loved it!
What’s your favorite flavor you’ve worked on?
This is a really difficult question because I have worked on so many great flavors! The flavor 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 flavor notes.
Have you ever made a flavor 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.