11 Reasons to Hold a Taste Testing Event!

Kids are creatures of habit. They eat what they like and can be reluctant to try new things. Kids are more likely to take a bite of something new, rather than take a whole serving. Creating a taste test event is a great way to introduce bite-sized samples of new food items in a fun, pressure-free way!


A taste test event can be beneficial for both students and cafeteria staff. Below are our top 11 reasons to organize a tasting event – it was difficult to limit the list to just 11!

  1. Exposes students to new foods. A taste test event can get students thinking about food items in different non-traditional ways. For example, vegetables can be introduced as toppings for an entrée, as dips, or spreads for deli wraps.
  2. Learn about student preferences. Not only can you identify food item preference, but also preference for food preparation. Find out what students like and put it on the menu!
  3. Builds excitement. Create a buzz about taste test day! Use this event to promote local/seasonal foods, or sample a veggie grown from the school garden.
  4. TIME. When students enter the serving area, they are focused on selecting their lunch quickly. Stopping to try something new may not fit with their purpose. So – offer tastes outside the serving area or as grab and go items.
  5. Increases efficiency and decreases waste. Familiarizing students with new foods can ensure that the food item is marketable before appearing on the menu.
  6. Allows staff to tap into the creative side of work. Encourage participation from the entire staff and gather ideas for a fun, successful event!
  7. Opportunity to promote vegetables. Use a taste test event to nudge vegetables into the spotlight! Students may be more willing to try a vegetable item when other foods are not competing with it.
  8. Education. Taste testing is a quick, casual way to teach students about local food items, food properties, and healthy food choices.
  9. Opportunity to reinforce the behavior of trying new foods. Students may be motivated to taste test by watching their peers and teachers try new foods.
  10. Opens dialogue with current and potential customers. Use this event to increase consumption and participation! Ask about the likes and dislikes from packers, snackers and meal grabbers. Use the feedback to turn packers and snackers into meal-purchase backers!
  11. HAVE FUN! Create a theme for your event – incorporate music, have volunteers dress for the occasion. The idea is to create a fun, welcoming atmosphere for the students. This will be a day that kids will look forward to!

For additional information on how to conduct a taste test event, check out the Getting Started Guide under our Resources tab above. Downloadable posters, stickers and comment cards can be found on the Taste Test Materials page, also under the Resources tab above.

Taste Test Recipes

Are you looking for some new ideas to spice up your menu? Here are a few of our favorite, simple recipes to taste test!

  1. Pineapple Slaw – the recipe blends broccoli, pineapple, green onion, cream, sugar and few other spices into a sweet, creamy spread kids are going to love! This is a perfect addition for any deli sandwich or wrap!
  2. Corn and Bean Salsa – this recipe blends corn, black beans, tomatoes, red bell pepper and a mixture of herbs and spices to create a fresh orange/lime flavored salsa. This recipe is sure to win over students and is a perfect addition to a build-your-own burrito day!

You can find these recipes, and many more, under the Resources tab above!


Screenshot_2015-10-07-12-54-13 (2)During the month of November we will be running a basket challenge! Put your best basket to the test and win one of our 18 x 24, full color foam board Taste Test posters. We’ll also include 500 of our “Official Taste Tester” stickers!

Send us your basket photo to Ohiosmarterlunchrooms614@gmail.com. Every entry will receive 100 of our “Official Taste Tester” stickers. The winner will be announced the last week of November.

Check back next week for a post on how to create your award winning basket!

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kids and food, in school and out

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Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences

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