Jennifer Fideler, Product Developer at Betty Lou'sJennifer Fideler
BS 2011, Food Science
Product Developer
Betty Lou's

As a product developer, my main priority is to create formulas/recipes for nutrition bars and cookies that meet specific flavor, texture, and nutritional guidelines. My typical work day consists of a balance of computer work, bench-top mixing, and meetings with our quality, sales, engineering, and production departments. Each morning I evaluate any samples I made the day prior, adjust formulas, mix them up on the bench top, and adapt them to run on our large scale production equipment. Sometimes these adjustments require me to brainstorm with other product developers, source new ingredients, or consult our production team to optimize manufacturability.

One of the biggest perks of my job is that I have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of ingredients: nut butters, syrups, dried fruits, health supplements, extracts, flavors, gums, grains, chocolates…you name it! Every day I learn something new about an ingredient. I also love that my job allows me to stay involved with people from all over the food industry and maintain relationships with the folks I’ve met through OSU and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). The food industry is a tight-knit community and it’s a true blessing to be able to work with close friends within and outside of my own company.

In my younger years I loved helping my mother in the kitchen, creating menus for dinner, and practicing my patisserie skills with my Easy Bake Oven. In fact, I once starred in a home-movie cooking show spoof entitled “Julia Child’s Child”! Fast forward to high school and you would have found me watching Mario Batali roll out ravioli on the Food Network, thinking to myself “wow, I could do that for a living!” Being a chef sounded great but I wanted to know "why" and “how” recipes worked. Luckily my high school counselor told me about the field of food technology and I found that Oregon State offered a program. I was sold immediately!

The most valuable training that I received during my college career was learning how to adapt to new environments. By taking internships and working a few hours a week in various labs I dove into unfamiliar territory. Through these experiences I came to understand how food manufacturers function and honed some integral skills related to lab technique and practical math. From an academic standpoint, the well-rounded curriculum offered at OSU ranging from food chemistry to toxicology to engineering provided me with foundational concepts that I build upon with specific application to bar manufacturing.

What is your most valuable piece of advice for students?

  • Get to know each other! The people who sit next to you in class may one day work with you or recommend you for a job.  
  • DO something. Put yourself in an uncomfortable situation and work through it—take an internship, run for a club office, plan an event, participate in a competition.