Featured in Elite Daily, Natalia Butler ‘12MS describes her experience discovering food science at UMass as well as her career developing new ice cream flavors for Ben & Jerry’s.
From “Natalia Butler Is The Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Guru Who Creates Your Fave Treats”:
Believe it or not, each irresistible Ben & Jerry’s flavor is concocted by professional food scientists who know exactly what you want for dessert. One of them is Natalia Butler, a flavor guru at Ben & Jerry’s. Butler creates ice cream flavors for a living — but her profession is a lot more complex than it sounds.
In Puerto Rico, Butler grew up in a family that owned three restaurants, which is how she became so “connected to food.” Like most college students, she did internships during her time at school. One of those internships was at University of Massachusetts Amherst for biochemistry — and that internship led to Butler's involvement with food science. “I walked in [to] UMass and there was a building that literally said, ‘Food Science,’ and I was like, ‘What?!’ she recounts. At that moment, she knew exactly what she wanted to pursue.
Butler went on to achieve her master's degree in food science at UMass Amherst in 2012. Then, in 2016, she scored her job at Ben & Jerry's. The position wasn't handed to her, though. Instead, Butler found the job listing on LinkedIn through a recruiter. Then, she applied for the position along with "hundreds" of other candidates and underwent multiple interviews. At the end of the process, she was "the lucky winner."
At Ben & Jerry’s, Butler conceptualizes and concocts various ice cream flavors for retailers around the globe. “I am one of the lucky ones that gets to develop ice cream for the entire world.” Some of the locations she develops flavors for include Brazil, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, and the United States. A few flavors that Butler has created include Tonight Dough, Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz, and the famous Cherry Garcia.
As delicious as the process sounds, it's not all fun and games. “There’s a lot of science behind ice cream, which is super interesting,” Butler says. For instance, have you ever wondered how those crunchy pieces in the ice cream stay, well, crunchy? That’s science. And the complicated science of food can mean that sometimes, no matter how good a flavor concept is, it doesn't quite work out. Butler usually asks herself, “Is it gonna stay crunchy? Is it gonna pull? It is gonna stretch if it’s caramel?” She continues, “It’s constantly in the back of your mind.”
Butler loves the process. "Every day that I get to go to the kitchen is a 'favorite' day,” she says. “It’s a very good feeling to wake up to work and be excited about going to work. I get to just show up as myself.”