Written by Lynn Ogden

October 29, 2003

Prior to 1984, sensory testing was performed in the Product Development Laboratory. A series of a dozen desks were set up side by side with partitions on three sides of the taster to provide privacy. Servers would bring the products on a tray and serve it from behind. Ballots were on paper. Dr. Clayton Huber taught the product development class and provided the expertise.

When Dr. Ogden came to BYU in the fall of 1984, one of his first assignments was to develop a course on the Techniques of Sensory Evaluation. He came from the McKesson Research Center in Dublin, California where part of their contract business was providing sensory services. Dr. Ogden was an internal user of their services and was somewhat familiar with the methods. Dr. Ogden went to school to study sensory techniques. He joined the Sensory Evaluation Division of the Institute of Food Technologists and attended a training course at the National Food Processors Laboratory in Dublin, California (his old laboratory under new ownership and with a new name) in September of 1986. He attended another course at Kansas State University in May 1993.

Room 325 in the Widstoe Building was selected to be renovated into the new Sensory Laboratory. The room was the first room on the right when entering the West door on ground level (third floor). A great advantage was that it was convenient for BYU faculty, staff and students. A disadvantage was that it was across the hall from the anatomy lab where cadavers were kept. Fans in the hall were used as an environmental control system pushing the aroma down the hall away from the Sensory Lab. The room design consisted of seven-booths configuring an L shape and a small kitchen. A side room was also designed that could be used as a work room or descriptive facility. An existing walk-in refrigerator was retained.

The room was constructed in the fall of 1985 and put into service during winter of 1986. The first industrial client initiated a contract in October of 1987. The room featured stainless steel Breadbox pass-through compartments as a means of serving the panelists from the kitchen without them being exposed to the kitchen or workers. Ballots were on paper and tabulation was done by hand twice to assure accuracy. A DOS data file was created. Analysis was performed using SAS by a campus mainframe. A receptionist sat at a table in the hall just outside the door and checked pre-recruited panelists in and out and controlled access. Melanie Roney, a former food science student and mother (and wife of Kirk Roney, one of the Roney brothers who founded Nu Skin), was the recruiter for the first couple of years. She began by going from office to office on campus soliciting panelists and interviewing them and getting demographic information. After a couple of panels, she was able to do it by phone from home. Student and staff wives have been our recruiters over the years. Laurie Picklesheimer, sister-in-law of Tom Bishop, did it until about 1994. For the last several years Sandy Romney, wife of BYU Purchasing Agent Park Romney, has been recruiting from home.

In about the second year of lab operation, a digitizer was acquired that allowed us to convert the paper ballot to data by laying the ballot on the pad and touching the marked boxes. It greatly increased the speed and accuracy of the data transfer. Analysis continued on a campus mainframe using SAS. A grant from BYU added computer assisted sensory evaluation in Spring/Summer of 1993. Booths were remodeled to accommodate a monitor, CPU, keyboard and light pen. Compusense® software was used.

From the beginning, panels were given a number. Numbers were assigned in order as the panels were scheduled. The 86th panel was conducted in October of 1990, 184th in February 1993, 410th in May of 1995, 618th in November of 1997, 1000th in August of 2001, 1200th in September of 2003. Panels are a mixture of under graduate product development panels, BYU research panels, and industrial panels. Over half of the panels have been industrial panels. Value of the industrial panels since the beginning is estimated to be over $1.5 million dollars.

In January of 1998, the Department of Food Science and Nutrition moved into the remodeled Eyring Science Center. Included in the facilities was a new 1400 ft2 Sensory Laboratory designed by Dr. Ogden and his students. It was room S103, located on the ground floor near the back loading dock door and just north of the Pilot Plant. Like the old lab, it included seven booths with breadbox pass-through compartments, and bank of signal lights in each booth and computer assisted recruiting, questionnaire delivery and analysis. It also included a reception area, office, descriptive room, walk-in freezer and refrigerator and a 420 ft2 preparation area.

Shortly after Dr. Ogden became the Department Chair in the fall of 1997, Laura Jefferies was hired as a graduate student to manage the Sensory Laboratory and Pilot Plant, reporting to Dr. Ogden. When she finished her Masters Degree in 1998, she remained as a full time staff employee. Her salary was paid from the income produced by industrial panels with some coming from Welfare Services.

Dates of panel room construction and remodeling were obtained from Gene Libutti, BYU Planning.

Contract Dates were obtained from BYU Research Office records

Panel numbers were obtained from Dr. Ogden's records.