Soft Style Home-Baked Select
Frank sat there, blindfolded, and sniffed.
He heard Janet’s voice. “Sooo…which one smells more like honest-to-goodness fresh home-baked cookies? A…or B?”
It was the moment of truth, and Frank wasn’t up to it.
Sure, signing up for the focus group seemed like a dream job: You’ll pay me to sit around eating cookies? Yes, please!
But the reality was this: Yes, he had sat around…in a cramped, clammy, poorly-lit room, seated in an uncomfortable chair, surrounded by some highly unlikeable people, for close to nine hours. He felt like he had eaten his weight in cookies, and they weren’t even good ones. They had all started to taste the same hours ago. It wasn’t too much of a good thing; it was more than a lifetime’s worth of a mediocre thing.
And now they had come to the last test: The blind smell test. And he was the tie-breaker; his vote was probably going to determine which recipe Cookie Gems Inc. would end up using for their new Soft Style Home-Baked Select brand of chocolate chip cookies.
The problem was, Frank couldn’t smell the cookies. All he could smell was the BO of fat Gary sitting to his left and the rancid coffee and cigarette breath of Nancy sitting to his right. So he guessed.
He guessed wrong.
Soft Style Home-Baked Select brand chocolate chip cookies were a DISASTER for the company. They were reviled by the general public, who in short order had re-named the brand “Soft Vile Hot Mess Rejects”. Sales were awful; at least three top Cookie Gems executives were fired over them. And the final nail in the coffin was when International Cookie News Quarterly critic Brendan Novack (a highly influential taste-maker in the world of store-bought cookies) declared the brand to be “the New Coke of chocolate chip cookies”.
Cookie Gems Inc. was in crisis.
But Frank didn’t care. Their focus group had kind of ruined chocolate chip cookies for him. The way he saw it, they were even.