21 June 2013

Kraft R&D

We used to buy Kraft peanut butter in Australia. The red label was crunchy, while the blue label was smooth. I used to get the peanut chunks stuck in my teeth a lot.
Kraft also reminds me of Vegemite. What a staple!
Kraft singles somehow factor in too, though once we moved to HK, we ended up buying some other brand's processed cheese. So, those were my childhood Kraft memories.

I do not associate childhood with Lunchables, Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Jell-O, or cream cheese. So, it's interesting visiting the Kraft Beverages R&D and seeing other people possibly relish in nostalgia, while I'm sitting there thinking about Vegemite.

We first had an introduction to Kraft, and I learned that Kraft actually split into Kraft and Mondelez after Kraft bought Cadbury. I'm pretty surprised after seeing so many familiar brands belonging to Mondelez's. Perhaps I would want to work for them (hah, free samples?).
We had a tour of the pilot plant and I saw sacks of citric acid and flavourings. This made me very happy. We toured and viewed the coffee roaster, and tasted 4 different coffees (made with the Arabica bean and/or the Robusta bean). Yes, I could tell the subtle differences among the coffees, but I'm really not sure which I prefer. I like them all.

The Kraft facility apparently had a renovation to make it more modern and friendly for collaborations. From a picture, it sort of looked like a possible office space at Google. However, I noted vending machines and it appears that there are no microkitchens. I think it's kind of bizarre that food companies don't offer free food, while many tech companies have on-site chefs, free meals, and microkitchens with EVERYTHING.

 Kraft did have a giant kitchen though, and we had a group "make your own drink" activity. My group and I made the green ("Summer Twist") and toxic orange drinks. The green was peach, mango, and grapefruit(?) flavouring with citric acid, while the orange was vanilla, gingerbread and grapefruit. The activity was fun, but it seemed kind of juvenile.

I think the red drink was cherry vanilla and I don't remember what the other ones were.
We had discussions about working in the food science industry at lunch. I wanted to know whether the scientists came up with the new flavours/ideas. Unfortunately, it turns out that marketers are the ones who dictate what foods or drinks get made. Darn, I knew I should've transferred to Wharton.

At the end, we received goodie bags! It turns out that I have bought nearly no Kraft beverages in the past. We got Gevalia coffee, Kool-Aid (in both plastic bottle and powder form), Capri-Sun for adults (i.e. bigger serving size), Crystal Light, and Mio.

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