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Take-home tasting kits help dozens of local businesses stay afloat with hundreds of orders

Posted at 7:17 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 21:17:54-04

SANDY, Utah — Utah foodies are rejoicing over a local company’s take-home tasting kits – providing hundreds of orders to small businesses every week.

In a small square of a Sandy warehouse facility, you’ll find long, fold out tables and rows of shelving.

The shared space doesn’t look like much, but this make-shift section is where the Utah Taste Off magic happens.

“We are preparing around 500 kits a week,” said Brandy Jesperson the social media manager with Utah Taste Off.

In assembly line fashion, one young woman goes to the shelves, pulls down a large tray of freshly baked goods, brings it to the table and starts loading up new boxes with the treats. A second young woman down the table gets ready to load up her share of treats before adding a box top and a sticker.

These women do this every week, loading between 400 and 700 boxes with up to 12 treats from up to six local companies.

Every week the item changes. In the past the company has put local snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, chocolates, cupcakes, macarons, sugar cookies, donuts, sweet rolls, pulled pork, cheese and salsa to the taste test.

This week each box is receiving two identical brownies from six shops (making a full dozen), baked fresh before packaging and pickup.

The 45-dollar, gourmet kit comes with a placemat and scoring card. Each week they pick the ‘best of the best’ and the kits sellout.

“There are so many great places to eat in Utah, we just want to help the community discover them,” said Jesperson.

“A lot of people say, ‘can you add more kits, we want more,’” Jesperson continued. “Our vendors are small companies and so they are limited as to how many they can bake, [they] make these treats fresh every single day.”

Utah Taste Off has the assembly process down to a T, even though they’ve only been doing the take home kits since mid-March. Before the onset of the pandemic, the company held in-person tasting parties.

“We were a couple of days away from doing our cinnamon roll party, we kept saying we were going to do it and then the numbers kept getting cut smaller and smaller and we just knew we couldn’t,” Jesperson said regarding their last in-person party that was sold out.

“We knew there was a demand for it, and then we saw all of these businesses and their livelihood as people were going in and no one was going out,” she continued. “So we decided, what if we do a kit, we take the same vendors that were going to be at our parties, we put them in a box and people can safely drive up, they don’t have to get out of their car, we’ll give them a kit and they can still do the taste off at home… and it exploded.”

UTO believes it’s a win-win, the business gets large orders they otherwise would not see and the people who buy the kits have something to look forward to.

“To date, since March, we have contributed 126-thousand-dollars to 90 different local companies,” Jesperson said.

“I have talked to so many people who have said I never would have heard of that company, but I tried them through your kit and we go there all the time now,” she added.

The weekly winner gets bragging rights, but Jesperson said, for the small businesses involved, there really are no losers.

Jesperson said between the cost of the treats and their costs – the company is pretty much breaking even, but as long as it’s helping small mom and pop shops, they don’t plan on stopping.

“This is their livelihood, a lot of people, the whole family works there and if we’re not there to support them, then that can be really scary,” said Jesperson. “What they’re putting out into the community is amazing.”

UTO said, once the pandemic is over, the hope to provide both in-person events and take-home kits.

Kits go on sale Friday mornings, they are available for pick up the following week; in Utah County on Tuesdays, Salt Lake County on Wednesdays, and Davis County on Fridays.

Right now they are mainly operating through facebook and Instagram, you can also send a request to join their email list to be included in the kits. Sneak peak: cheesecake kits for next week go on sale Friday!