The Science of Influencing

Feb. 9, 2021
If an entire country of adults can become riveted by banana bread in a month, so too can we make cooking cool again. 

In the first of year of launching the Influential Women in Manufacturing program (IWIM), one of the webinars we took part in was explaining to non-manufacturing folks what manufacturing was and how it affected all of us. Our keynote speaker used food as her example and advised everyone watching to open up their pantry and look at everything in it: All of that had to be manufactured.

I like to use that example when explaining to people the kind of content I report on. When I get quizzical looks about food production or manufacturing, I remind people how much manufacturing and production infiltrate their daily life. Some people segue into how they don't like 'processed food' to which I subtly roll my eyes and nod at their misunderstanding of what processed food is.

When I saw Dave's editorial for February, it gave me flashbacks and an idea of how we can help more people understand what exactly food processing is and how products are made.

Weird Science

My mother has disliked cooking for most of her life. She failed at extracting an egg shell in something when she was a kid, her sister never let her live it down, and for the rest of my mother's life, she's had an aversion to learning to cook.

My brother and I both love to cook. My love of cooking came while I was recuperating from reconstructive jaw surgery. I couldn't eat so the next best thing was to watch chefs concoct these brilliant displays of culinary delight. I've now spent most of my life indulging my inner Julia Child. My younger brother learned by watching me; now we're both the chefs of the family.

We were convinced we could turn my mom's cooking frown upside down in 2020. My brother gave her confidence and a cookbook, while I provided her with the intel on food chemistry and food science. All of these years of covering food manufacturing and food science meant I now understood why things paired well with others. I recognized flavor profiles and was able to extol the virtues of mouthfeel and satiety. Together, we helped our mom fall in love with cooking.

She always loved science and chemistry and the nurse in her understood titration, ratios, acids, and bases. Once we showed her that cooking and baking where essentially a daily science experiment, she grew to love it.

TikTok, Yeah, Don't Stop

I did something in December that I'm not quite sure I'm ashamed of... yet. I created a personal TikTok account. I was curious what the excitement was all about, so I finally dove head first into the rabbit hole we call the 'Tok.

It's been about 6 weeks and I can understand the viral nature of the app. I've already seen one recipe go from delicious concoction to selling out the feta cheese section of grocery stores. I've also seen a bajillion tutorials and tips grace my little hand-held screen.

The app has a captive younger audience. While those of us with more miles on our tires might yawn at comments about 'social currency,' the fact of the matter is, this really is how younger people today are communicating and learning (and yes, I just rolled my own eyes at my own use of 'younger people today' thankyouverymuch).

My advice to a lot of food brands out there is to use this app as a tool not only to market, but also to teach. Get your research chefs and product developers on TikTok. Do for food what immunologists and doctors are doing to explain virus transmission and vaccines.

We've talked for years on Food Processing about how food and beverage companies should get out in front of the message when it comes to consumers and their love/hate relationship with processed food. While you still have a captive audience, why not seek to educate the younger consumers about what exactly processed food is and how products go from idea to execution.

If an entire country of adults can become riveted by banana bread in a month, then we can certainly figure out a way to make the science of cooking cool, the robotic-nature of manufacturing impressive, and the creative nature of product development stimulating. Doesn't our future depend on it?

Sponsored Recommendations

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Micro Motion™ G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meter

Micro Motion G-Series: market-leading compact design featuring advanced process diagnostic capability.

Embracing Sustainability using Advanced Measurement Instrumentation

A practical guide to greeningyour brewing operationsusing advanced measurementinstrumentation.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...