A Taste for Crowdsourcing

The internet has replaced my cookbook.

Well, maybe the cookbook’s not gone… but it’s far more likely that you’ll find me in the kitchen covered in flour consulting the recipe that I found during my Google search.

But that’s the way the professionals are getting their tasty recipes as well. Many food and beverage companies are asking the crowd which flavor the rest of us should try next. You can see some of my favorite crowdsourced tastes below.

Dunkin’ Donuts is home to some of my favorite treats and I sadly have yet to encounter one in Washington state. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t interact with my favorite brand. Dunkin’ Donuts has been creating interactive sites and crowdsourced contests for some time now. Their highly interactive Facebook page brims with conversations, videos, and contests. But what really took my fancy was the 2010 “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest. Through an interactive flash website (created by Studiocom), users could select and combine ingredients to create new Dunkin flavors without having to add measurements, crazy flavors, or product test. The winner was Rachel Davis of Massachusetts with the delicious Monkey-See-Monkey-Donut. I sampled it on my last trip back east. Scrumptious.

In 2009, Frito Lay’s introduced some new flavors based on over a million entries from their fans. Of those million Cheesy Mexicana, Tangy Twist, Mastana Mango and Hip Hop Honey & Chilly were created for the world to vote on. The grand victor was Sagar, creator of Mastana Mango. A very tasty chip.

The one I’m on pins and needles about is the Ben and Jerry’s “Do the World a Flavor” contest. This contest was designed not only to get the crowd involved, support the Ben & Jerry’s brand, and get a new ice cream flavor, but also to promote fair trade. Ben & Jerry’s site visitors were able to invent their own crazy ice cream variety at the online “Creation Station.” The winners will soon be announced and the top flavor creator will win a trip to the Dominican Republic to visit a sustainable fair trade cocoa farm and the winning flavor will be produced as an official Ben & Jerry’s product.

What are some of your favorite brands to connect with? What tasty creations would you like to see mass-produced? Do you think that connecting online on creation stations is the best way to interact with the crowd in creating a flavor?

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