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Being part of a test group

There are a variety of ways that companies use in order to see if a product (or a service) will be marketable, or simply if it will be liked by the possible customers. One of the tests they do is to distribute samples to homes, schools, or other organizations to survey folks to see if it will sell.

When I was in high school, perhaps in the 8th grade, General Mills came to our school with three products they wanted our students to test. They went into the classrooms with samples of these products and asked us to taste them, to see if we liked them. They gave us little surveys with questions about what we liked and disliked about the products, one at a time. It was fun, and we all enjoyed this exercise very much. I remember the name of only one of the three products we tested. I remember it well, because it became one of their most famous products. The name is Bugles. You might say that I helped Bugles get onto the shelves of the grocery stores.

Bugles remains one of General Mills best products. In 2014, it celebrated its 50th year. The product hasn’t changed. It is the same deliciously crunchy snack it was back in 1964.

All my life I have heard about surveys, polls, test groups and control groups. The Gallup Poll is probably one of the most commonly mentioned of all polls. It is a kind of survey used in determining predictions about elections and public opinion. Supposedly, Gallup, Inc. goes around and asks folks how they will vote, and this information goes into a calculation to predict who will win elections. Gallup polls have been used since around 1935, and for some reason, it has been thought to be the Cadillac of all polls. Supposedly, it is used all over the country. However, in all my years, I have NEVER been asked my opinion for a Gallop Poll. Who are they asking?

The Nielsen Ratings is another type of survey I have heard about most of my life. This company measures what shows people watch on television and what they listen to on the radio. They ask people to participate on panels, and they will often choose people based on similar traits or backgrounds. Again, I have merely heard about these activities. No one has EVER asked me to participate in a Nielsen rating.

A few years ago (quite a few years ago), my husband and I were in Las Vegas for a short vacation. We were just walking down the street, and someone approached us and asked if we would be a part of a group who would be testing for a new movie. It sounded fun, especially since they were offering us lunch afterwards.

It indeed was a fun experience. We sat in a small theater set up just for testing movies. The armrest of each seat had a button, much like the buttons the contestants use on Jeopardy. As we watched the movie, we were to hold the buttons in our hands. If there was a scene we liked, we were to push the button in the right hand, and if there was a scene we thought was bad, we were to push the button with the left hand.

I remember this movie to be an action movie, and it had some familiar actors, but I do not remember which movie it was. I do remember it hit the silver screen and flopped. I guess our group was not opinionated enough.

Nowadays, it seems I am asked every day to participate in a survey, usually by an online company. “How are we doing?” Believe me, if you are NOT doing well, you can expect to hear from me.

Have a great weekend!

— My love to all,


• • •

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.”

— Proverbs 3:5-6


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