The ice cream man whose taste buds are insured for $1m

John Harrison was so good at his job -- tasting ice cream -- that Dreyer’s once insured his taste buds for $1m.

John Harrison licking ice cream off his gold plated spoon (Source: YouTube / WISH-TV)

Currently, there are ~30k self-identified pro “tasters” on LinkedIn. But it’s safe to say few have a story like John Harrison’s.

It starts in 1880, when Harrison’s great-grandfather opened 2 ice cream parlors in New York. Some time later, his grandfather started the 1st dairy co-op in Tennessee.

  • After that, his father owned an Atlanta-based dairy factory, and his uncle owned a Memphis-based ice cream factory.

Harrison started out as an assistant taster for his uncle

Eventually, in 1980, Harrison joined Dreyer’s (known as Edy’s in the eastern US) as the company’s head taster, where he retired in 2010.

In his time at Dreyer’s, Harrison claimed he tasted (but rarely swallowed) a few hundred million gallons of ice cream.

  • Harrison also claimed he co-invented cookies and cream and could immediately tell the difference between 12% and 11.5% fat in a product.

According to Harrison, it’s all in the taste buds

Harrison’s insight was so valuable to Dreyer’s business, they had his buds insured for $1m.

Here’s what Harrison told the LA Times in 1991: “My taste buds… are not necessarily better than anyone else’s, they’ve just been trained.”

Wanna see Harrison in action? Check out this clip. We guarantee you’ve never seen anyone eat or speak about ice cream so eloquently.

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