This Ice Cream Legend's Taste Buds Were Insured For $1 Million

When it comes to making ice cream, there is endless room for creativity. And then, of course, there's the pleasure of eating it. Indulging in ice cream is a form of bliss like no other. It's fun, it's sweet, it's exciting, and it hits the spot no matter the time of year. With so many different brands and flavors swirling around the world, ice cream has surely made an impact in the culinary arts throughout history.

If you're obsessed with ice cream and make it a mission to try new flavors every chance you can get, then John Harrison is a definitely name you should know. Harrison grew up in the ice cream business. His paternal great-grandfather opened two ice cream parlors in New York in 1880, and his grandfather launched the first dairy cooperative in Tennessee. His father later owned a dairy factory in Atlanta, Georgia while his uncle opened an ice cream factory in Memphis, Tennessee — where Harrison worked in his youth (per The Hustle).

Fast-forward to 1980, when Harrison started a job at Dreyer's as the brand's head ice cream taster. By the time he retired from the company in 2010 after three decades, he had sampled hundreds of millions of gallons of ice cream. During his tenure at Dreyer's, his taste buds were deemed so important to the company's success that executives had them insured for $1 million in 1991 (per Los Angeles Times).

John Harrison's taste buds were extremely valuable to Dreyer's

John Harrison began his workdays at 7:30 a.m., when he would sample batches of ice cream before they were shipped to ensure their perfection. He had his methodology down to a science. "I taste with my eyes initially, so if it doesn't look appetizing, forget the rest of it," he told Cooking Light in 2002. "Then I let the ice cream temper about 10 to 12 degrees to maximize the flavor and get the full topnote, bouquet, and aroma, and to avoid what the young people call 'brain freeze.'"

Harrison was known for using a golden spoon for his tasting. His reason? Economic materials like wood and plastic offer a resin-like texture and aftertaste, and he wanted to avoid clogging those precious taste buds. Also, Harrison very rarely swallowed the ice cream he would sample. Instead, he would swirl it around in his mouth, and then spit it out.

As far as his go-to tasting order? "I start with the white wines of ice cream — vanilla, French vanilla — and work my way up to the Bordeaux of fudge," he told the Los Angeles Times back in 1991. "My taste buds are not necessarily better than anyone else's; they've just been trained," he assured. Harrison eventually became the inventor of the beloved cookies and cream flavor (even though the flavor's true origin has been up for debate for decades). Thanks for everything you've done for us, Mr. Harrison!