Secret Mission: Taste Bud Conspiracy


As we wind down the first week of Escape Lab, we want to let you know how much we’ve been enjoying reading all the comments and seeing your photos. Keep ’em coming!

One of our #mustbenice’s this week is having such a neat tribe of people who are so willing to “tinker” by giving this experiment known as Escape Lab a try. We are so grateful for your presence, and would love to hear your favorite parts so far (as well as any things you think could be better)!

Also a reminder: there won’t be any emails sent over the weekend, which is done on purpose. Sometimes weeks go sideways on us, and we figured the weekend would be a good chance for people to catch up on any of the stuff they missed during the week (like making shrinky drinks or watching our interview with Kyle), or even take some time to read what your fellow Escape Artists have shared.

We’ll be back next Monday with a second course of fun and function, and even more surprises up our sleeves!

That being said, we plan on using Fridays to send you off on a Secret Mission…


“Try it, you might like it.” We both remember sitting at the kitchen table when we were kids hearing more than once this suggestion from our mothers. Mothers really do know best. Normally, this statement was part of a plea to get us to sample the asparagus, but it also hints at a deeper wisdom and encourages a childlike spirit of adventure. Many of us, when we go out to eat, order the same things over and over again. By trying something different once in a while, we expand our horizons and go a long way toward thinking and acting in a more childlike way.

The Mission

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to eat something you’ve never had before. You could use the jelly beans we included in your Treasure Box, or get creative and go in a different direction. It doesn’t have to be something gross, it just has to be something new.

P.S. Here’s an OLD video of Kim trying veal baby food as part of the original Escape Plan.


Give your taste buds a wake-up call. Then report back here and share your experience!


  1. Avatar Corinne Hanson says:

    Can’t wait to try this one! I’m going to my mom’s for the weekend, so I’ll pick up something “odd” on the way!
    I am enjoying this experience so far, though I’ve failed on posting any pictures so far… Part of me is saying “what are you doing–trying to do this every day?!” but another part of me is loving being reminded to fight adultitis on a daily basis. I’ve got my autographed tinker print on my desk here at work, next to my in-use MustBeNice mug. This is good.

  2. Sarah Welke Sarah Welke says:

    I found out recently that I have quite a few food intolerances. Had dragging lip and the weeps for few days over it. However, it gave me the opportunity to try all sorts of new foods. I would have sworn that I hated pistachios. Not only do I love them, but I can make things with the shells! The tinkering shell artwork is planned for this weekend. Now off to check some of the weird looking fruits at the top of the produce display. Starfruit maybe? :D

  3. Avatar Dave Timmerman says:

    Okay I actually did this a few weeks ago but I will try something new this week end. A few weeks ago I needed to get coke zero but the only one available was cokezero cherry. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate cherrys. But I stretched my world and bought the zero cherry pop and it wasn’t bad. TaDah!!!

  4. Mary Eickemeyer Mary Eickemeyer says:

    Using an inspiration from work, I tried one of my dog’s peanut butter and banana treat biscuits. It was dry and bland. I only ate 1/4 of it and gave the rest to my dog. He must have much better taste buds than I as I could barely taste any peanut butter at all. It more tasted like wheat and a very bland banana paste stirred together and baked.

    • Brave girl!

    • Avatar JoAnn Nelson says:

      Bwa ha ha! That brings back memories of my cousins tricking me to eat chocolate covered dog treats. I liked them until I realized I was embarrassed that I had been fooled! To this day I avoid situations that I might feel embarrassed. But from this day forward I’m going to tinker with my ability to try new things with out worry of out come. Thanks!

    • Jenna Regis Jenna Regis says:

      I too have memories of eating dog treats on a dare – pretty sure I beat all the neighborhood boys by consuming the most! Age 7 or 8 I believe ;)

  5. Darla Dernovsek Darla Dernovsek says:

    As a Saturday morning treat, I opened the jelly bellies. Buttered popcorn, yum. Coconut, yum. Baby wipes taste amazingly like a baby wipe could reasonably be expected to taste and toothpaste was tolerable. But canned dog food was definitely a “run for the garbage can” experience! Ack ack ack!!!! So now I’ve left the jelly bellies open on the kitchen table as an invitation to the next unsuspecting person. It is called a “conspiracy,” after all!

  6. Sarah Tipperreiter Sarah Tipperreiter says:

    I wasn’t sure I could find something New at a pizza place, but, delicious success! Double-decker chorizo pizza…Exactly what it sounds like: TWO layers of cheesy, spicy goodness! I’m not a fan of sausage pizza, but I *love* chorizo.

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  7. Avatar Ron England says:

    Ok, this is a tough challenge for me. I am very very picky… so I will report back, but I am going to give it my best shot! Believe me I’ve heard it does not have to be gross… VEAL in regular preparation is awesome… veal baby food is bad a Fear Factor for me!! seriously!

  8. Avatar Ron England says:

    So I did the challenge! I know most are going to think it was not much of a challenge… but it was for me and believe it or not I found something that is really good, that I had never tried! So what is it… HONEY! I know most will not understand, but I just think too much and to me HONEY did not make a lot of sense to EAT!

    My daughter made dinner and a “special desert” that she was extremely excited about and as I was catching up on the Escape Lab she peeked her head in my office and said you like honey right? My first thought was NO WAY! But then I had just been challenged… (BTW I’m a sucker for being challenged it’s how I ended up running a 1/2 marathon!)…

    She made Chinese food (I know I can’t believe I eat it either, but only certain things) and the desert was a banana wrapped in egg roll noodle and fried with ice cream and drizzled with HONEY. OH MY GOODNESS!! IT WAS DELICIOUS!! I’ve attached a pic so you can drool! :)

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  9. Becky Reisinger Becky Reisinger says:

    My daughter and I already played jellybean Russian roulette last Sunday night. Today we had a girls “salon and lunch afternoon.” We tried calamari for the first time! It was good…but I had a hard time eating when I could see the tentacles! :-)

    • Jason Love Jason Love says:

      I like squid as well. Although the few times I had it, it seemed to have a rubbery texture which I found a little odd. I am not sure if that is normal or not.

  10. Avatar Rachel Nash says:

    I accepted your challenge and had a great opportunity to take it this afternoon. My husband and I met some friends for lunch at a sushi restaurant. I’ve been to many sushi restaurants before, in fact I really like sushi. BUT…. only the kind with the cooked shellfish/fish or just veggie. I am not a fan of raw fish. So today, to challenge myself, I shared one of my husband’s favorites – Hamachi (a fatty tuna, I believe). I have to say the first bite wasn’t bad. But I took too big of a second bite and had a hard time getting it down. More of a texture issue, I think. But I did it and I’m proud of myself!

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    • Good for you, Rachel! When it comes to tinkering there are no guarantees, but the best part is, now you know!

    • Jenna Regis Jenna Regis says:

      Nicely done! I don’t really like fish – but I’m kinda into sashimi: thinly sliced raw fish often found at sushi places my sisters like to drag me to ;)

  11. Avatar Ron England says:

    Finished the interview… I should have posted a FAKE challenge pic of me eating anything seafood… or even better a true Fear Factor a spider!! LOL

    • Sarah Welke Sarah Welke says:

      Oooo I have the spider squicks too but now I see a pic of me with “spider legs” haanging out of my mouth and a “hmmm does it taste like chicken look on my face”. :D

  12. Kimberly McCue Kimberly McCue says:

    I was at an airport yesterday and thought that would be a good opportunity to try something different. Usually I would have made a beeline for something safe and familiar like McDonald’s, but I went to this grill place instead and looked at the menu. I tried to find one of the last things I would probably order and decided on a salmon sandwich.
    I actually love salmon, but in a sandwich? It was in a pretzel roll, too. I’d never had one of those before. So I ordered it up and got to tasting it. The salmon part was fantastic, but it had this sauce on it that either was or similar to tartar sauce – another first for me. Can’t say I cared for that part, it was kind of sour and tangy. The pretzel roll was all right, softer than I thought it would be but it was pretty thick. Overall the combination was sort of “bleh”, but now I know ’cause I tried it. : ) I do love salmon, but keep mine away from bread!
    I took a photo but can’t post it right now because I forgot to pack the cord that hooks my camera to a computer. I’m out of town visiting my sister in Minnesota for a week so I’ll probably have way more opportunities to take the taste bud challenge. She and her husband can have unique tastes sometimes!

    • Kristin Hoehne Kristin Hoehne says:

      While you are there, see if there is a place that serves LEFSE. It’s like a tortilla, but made of potatoes instead of corn. yummy! I like mine with butter, cinnamon and sugar! Enjoy your visit and woot woot on trying something new, Kimberly!

  13. Monica Deal Monica Deal says:

    This challenge became a family affair, with the exception of our oldest who just had his wisdom teeth removed :-( When our kids were little they used to love a book called Mickey’s Alphabet Soup, and in it, Goofy puts an Ugli fruit in his soup. Ever since then, we’ve wanted to taste an Ugli fruit but never had a reason to actually try one. It was one of the first things my kids suggested for this weekend. We got one of those along with a Pomelo. Everyone liked them both, and it was so much fun to try something that is exotic, at least to us! I loved having a reason to try something new and might make this a regular challenge.

    • I’ve never heard of an ugli fruit before — I’ll have to check that out. What would you compare it to?

      • Monica Deal Monica Deal says:

        Turns out the name is simply a trademark name for a specific brand of tangelo. It’s supposed to be a blend of an orange, grapefruit, and tangerine, and it pretty much tastes like a mix of those three things.

  14. Avatar Ron England says:

    How did I miss that there were Jelly Beans in my treasure box! I thought I had been left out… so I went to check and there they were! Oh now what do I do with these devilish little devils!! :)

  15. Kristin Hoehne Kristin Hoehne says:

    Being unsure of what food I should try that was new or different, I reached out to my 11 year old nephew. His mind began whirling and twirling. ‘Chocolate covered pickles’ he delcared! um VETO! For plan B, he said he make his favorite corned beef dip for me to try. It was quite delicious!

  16. Jen de Ridder Jen de Ridder says:

    Fun to read everyone’s new foods. We as a household have been trying to eat better so we have been trying lots of veggies. We actually love a lot of them and tolerate a few (poor zucchini gets no love). So we are attempting mashed rutabaga tonight.
    I also bought a pomegranate for another fun adventure!

    Hmmm somehow trying new fruit and veggies seems against the rules…cause it is good for us. Then again that’s what this is about right. So I am breaking rules and having healthy fun!

    • Sounds like a win – win!

    • Molly Hughes Molly Hughes says:

      I have pumpkin chocolate chip muffins in the oven right now…and the recipe I used calls for a couple of cups of shredded zucchini as well! I am excited as I get to have my fave pumpkin muffins, but also burn through some of the frozen shredded zucchini from last summer! (I love these muffins because we also sub applesauce for half of the oil, so we get 3 fruits/veggies in 1 muffin, and all you notice is the chocolate! :)

      • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

        Okay, PLEASE share this recipe, if you can. I LOVE pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. In fact they were my “FOOD” of choice during my pregnancy with Ginny. I craved them like crazy! :)

  17. Made (and ate) homemade caramel cinnamon rolls for the first time.

    Me likey this challenge.

    Attached image:

    • Avatar Ron England says:

      I think you should be sending one to everyone!! YUM

      • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

        Too bad we didn’t send you Lucy’s… We had one left and I offered it to her for breakfast this morning thinking that she was going to be thrilled to get the coveted LAST one. She immediately started crying. Come to find out, she actually DIDN’T like them (my guess is that the caramel threw off the taste for her). She didn’t want to tell us, b/c we were all so excited… so she pretended to like them and was really SUPER disappointed that she spent so much effort making them and that she didn’t even like them. Ah man…. kids! :)

  18. Michelle Grachek Michelle Grachek says:

    Okay, so my husband has this FAVORITE taco place in Toledo, OH. I have been boycotting it because…well it is his dude’s work place. On Saturday, the kids went with daddy to Toledo and they offered to bring dinner home. He begged me to try the tacos from this place and pork tacos at that. Since we were trying new things, I agreed. It was okay. I have to say the food from this place is actually very good and my son tried loaded nachos and loved them. The pork tacos were just okay. I would have rather had the loaded nachos or a chicken taco. :) Although now I can say I tried a pork taco. :)

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      Pork tacos… I’ve never tried one either. Sounds interesting. Good for you, for giving it a try! Loaded nachos sounds glorious!

  19. Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

    Pork tacos… I’ve never tried one either. Sounds interesting. Good for you, for giving it a try! Loaded nachos sounds glorious!

  20. Molly Hughes Molly Hughes says:

    So my food adventure for the weekend just made me laugh… I have been trying many new foods as my teen daughter had decided she is vegetarian, and I decided to learn to cook more meatless options. We have discovered we love quinoa, and I LOVE black beans and chickpeas. Also, Kale is ranking right up there…
    So anyway, the other night she and I were at Panera Bread getting dinner, and they have a new “Quinoa lentil bowl” with kale and such. So we were ordering, and I said “Can I try the Quinoa lentil bowl?” And the cashier just looked painfully confused, and finally she said “Uh, I don’t think you can TRY it…???” OH, I got it…rephrase, “Can I please GET the Quinoa Lentil bowl?” Better I guess, because then she just looked relieved.
    It was pretty good, too, which is good, because there was a lot! :)

  21. Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

    So, hey picky eaters out there! May I join the club? I’m a picky eater PLUS I’m allergic to milk and milk products (no butter, no cheese, no sour cream, no LOTS of good things – that pizza, Sarah, looks absolutely delicious!) So, this challenge to try something new was a bit – well – challenging! (smile) I walked slowly through the grocery store looking at things and vetoing things for various reasons, but I did get the ingredients necessary to bake the limb-missing and head-missing gingerbread cookies. While I have tasted gingerbread cookies before, I have never made them and decided to do so today because I wanted to take a treat tomorrow to celebrate my birthday, which was yesterday. I’ve attached photos so you know that I actually made them. I decided to try the molasses as part of my challenge because I’d never tasted it all by itself before. Does anyone know what I should do with the molasses that’s left over – about 1/3 of a jar? ;>) I don’t take time to cook or bake much – not home a lot and why bother for only one person!
    P.S. I took the jelly beans to a friend’s house and gave them to her three sons (7-13 years old). They got the biggest kick trying the candy even though they knew some of the jelly beans would taste awful. They spent a lot of the time standing by the garbage spitting out the awful tasting ones. They didn’t leave any for me to try. Too bad! ;>)

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    • Melissa LeFever Melissa LeFever says:

      Love that you used the cookie cutters from our boxes! Hope you had a terrific birthday!

      • Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

        Thanks, Melissa. I did! Everyone loved the cookies even though they thought I was a bit nutty making cookies intentionally that way.

  22. Melissa LeFever Melissa LeFever says:

    So I did make that homemade pizza dough that another Melissa posted on the home base page. Never had homemade pizza dough and it was a serious success. It was my goal this year to learn to use yeast in cooking because there were a few things I wanted to try and make homemade: pizza dough and caramel apple rolls. When I opened the yeast packet to make the dough i called my husband into the room- I didn’t realize that “active yeast” meant those little flakes would be jumping off the spoon! I was seriously fascinated. That was Saturday and for a Sunday afternoon of football game watching we had a delicious pizza and cheesy breadsticks totally homemade.
    My husband asked, “this wasn’t that much work right?” meaning- you can do this again, right? Ummmm… yeah!!!! I am totally doing this again… plus I still have leftover dough :)
    I have a recipe for caramel apple rolls that also requires yeast and I am excited to try that soon!

    • Melissa LeFever Melissa LeFever says:

      So I only had a picture of the dough before it rose… since we pretty much devoured the pizza before I could take a pic :) Thanks to Melissa C for sharing her recipe! Our pizza was just cheese and black olives, so I agree on the simple ingredients route for anyone else wanting to try her recipe.

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      • Melissa Calderara Melissa Calderara says:

        Hey there – sorry for the late reply I have been busy moving houses for a couple of weeks. Great work on making your on pizzas, your dough looks exactly like the ones we do too. I am sure it wasn’t as hard as you thought at the beginning too right? Hope to see photos of the final product too next time you make them.

  23. Allie Henke Allie Henke says:

    I am always so afraid to try new foods and for what reason? I really do not know. I think I will be brave and the next time my husband suggests I try something he is having I will accept the challenge. Mind you I may have no taste buds left as it is usually spicy but I will give it a whirl!

  24. Jason Love Jason Love says:

    This is a hard one because I will basically eat anything.
    At an early point in my life, I worked for a sideshow and did an act eating gross stuff… I will spare you the details.

    Instead, I am going to try to go to a local Asian buffet this weekend and eat a small piece of everything they have.

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      “did an act eating gross stuff”… you have some good party stories, I bet! :)

      • Jason Love Jason Love says:

        I have a lot of crazy stories but rarely tell them. This is because I am not the greatest storyteller and most of the stories are embarrassing.

        • If you want to be a professional speaker, those embarrassing stories are GOLD.

          • Jason Love Jason Love says:

            Good to know. I have a million of them.

            -Playing pool with Neo-Nazis.
            -My friend having his life threatened by a fortune teller.
            -Sucker punched while hitch hiking.
            -Accidently macing a carnie.
            -Experiment with movie stunts at age 8.
            -Trying to shave my face with nair.
            -Living in a church filled with giant puppets.
            … The list goes on…

  25. Avatar Sally Van Rens says:

    This was a challenge that “placed me in my son’s shoes”. He has sensory issues and a goal he set for himself this year was to try a new food at least once a week. On Saturday we went to HU Hot for dinner with my mom, I usually make the same sauce options, but on Saturday I tried their new sesame sauce. I can honestly say it was not my favorite and will not be trying it again. I have not broken into the jelly beans as of yet but I might share them on Friday with my school agers.

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      Good for you! Sorry it didn’t end up being that great. Still, AWESOME of you to try! I’m sure your son appreciated your effort!

  26. LeighAnn Keefer LeighAnn Keefer says:

    So I could not bring myself to take the jellybean challenge, but I did have a lot of fun watching my 2 younger children and nephews make funny faces as they tasted bugger, barf and skunk. I chose to jump in the shallow end first and try raw sushi for the first time. I actually did not order it myself but tried my husband’s. I thought he would fall out of his seat when I asked for a bite (I never try new things). My youngest 2 children have been keeping my accountable to the challenges and are always asking me about what is in the red box and what I learned. Hopefully I am getting closer to being the “fun” parent. lol

  27. Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

    WOW, raw sushi. You are braver than I!!! Booger, barf and skunk – nasty nasty nasty! That’s so cool that your kiddos are keeping you accountable. :)

  28. So admittedly, the caramel cinnamon rolls were not much of a culinary stretch (what’s not to love?), so last night the entire family tried Brussels sprouts for the first time! Three-year-old son Ben was not a fan. Six-year-old Lucy gave them a mixed thumbs up, thumbs down review. Kim and I loved them. We decided they tasted like a mix between cabbage and cauliflower.

    To be fair, I did cook them with bacon, so that may have given them an unfair advantage. But still, I will definitely be making them again!

    Here’s the recipe I used, compliments of Rachel Ray.

    Attached image:

  29. Melissa Calderara Melissa Calderara says:

    I have been away from this for a couple of weeks, moving places takes so much of your free time! but now that I am back I am looking to catch up starting from this one! on the weekend I had sweet gorgonzola for the first time. I never had it because I don’t usually like blue cheese but the sweet variety is not as strong and went soo well with figs and prosciutto. totally recommend it!! :)

    • Living in Wisconsin, the Land ‘O Cheese, I feel like I should know more about this fine dairy product. Fried cheese curds are my Kryptonite. I’ve never had sweet gorgonzola, but now I must seek it out and try it!

  30. Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

    The weekend that this mission was released to us, I happened to be grocery shopping with my sister in a store that has dairy-free frozen items (my local grocery store does not). I chose some items I had had before, but I also pulled out an entrée called black bean mango. As I pulled it out, I said “This doesn’t even sound good” as I put it in the cart. My sister gave me a “if it doesn’t sound good, why are you putting it in the cart?” look. I didn’t explain; I just shrugged. I had it for supper earlier this week. While I surprisingly liked the mango and black bean combination, the entrée as a whole was still rather bland. Oh, it must be nice to eat food with cheese and other dairy products! (smile)

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