School lunch idea: Let's do sushi


By Doug Snover

Twelve-year-old Edward Fancher’s idea of a perfect school lunch might surprise you. It might make your mouth water or your stomach churn, depending on your feelings about sushi.

“It’d be sushi,” the seventh-grader at Summit School of Ahwatukee says. “With a good salad and soup. I like miso soup, with soy, tofu and green onion.”

Having that kind of refined taste buds is paying off big for Edward. He is the only boy among five finalists heading to New York City soon to compete for the title of “Kid with the Sharpest Taste Buds” in a contest sponsored by Arm & Hammer, the baking soda company.

Kids between the ages of 8-12 were invited to submit an essay of 100 words or less on why they have the sharpest taste buds and describing the taste sensation of their favorite food.

The five finalists each receive a year’s supply of ice cream and are being flown to New York City in mid-September to compete for the grand prize of $1,000, a new refrigerator, and the title of “Arm & Hammer’s Kid with the Sharpest Taste Buds.” The finals are being hosted by youthful actress AnnaSophia Robb, star of the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Edward’s mother, Katherine Fancher, said she read about the contest in a magazine and realized “this was right up his alley.”

“He’s very sophisticated” about taste, she said. Edward prefers fine dining and entertained his family on their summer vacation by reviewing every restaurant they visited, she said.

He has a special preference for sushi. The essay he wrote for the contest focused on the taste and texture of his favorite dish.


Photo by David Stone 


“I like sushi a lot because there are so many different types and different flavors,” he explained. “I like the texture and the flavor. I like the sea flavor.”

He enjoys ham, too. And peanut butter and jelly sandwiches--no crust, please.

However, “I don’t really like steak when it gets charcoally,” he said.

The competition in New York will include a 30-second stand-up routine on why he should win. That should not stress Edward. His mother described him as “reserved, but not shy. He sort of turns on when he’s on stage.”

Edward obviously refined his tastes at an early age. That might be because he’s half Greek, his mother said.

“Greeks are very much into foods and flavors,” she said.

His father, Ed, is a Texan, so Edward also has a taste for the hot and spicy, according to his mother.

“He has so many other special interests. He’s really good with computers. He plays piano. And singing; he’s got perfect pitch,” she said.

It is his taste buds that could make Edward a hero to Arm & Hammer, however.

“Everyone knows that kids are the best judges of knowing when foods taste like they should,” said Ray Brown, of Arm & Hammer’s Good Taste Labs.

“The search will be a fun and engaging opportunity for kids to show off their superior tasting skills. It will also serve as a reminder to moms that they need to take care in managing odors in their refrigerators and freezers to ensure that foods taste like they should.”

This preliminaries consisted of two experiments: “Flavor Fluency,” that challenged contestants’ ability to distinguish nuances in ice cream flavors; and “Sweet-n-Salty Sleuth,” which asked kids to identify the difference between salty and sweet.

A final experiment of the “At-Home Taste Bud Audition” required kids to identify different levels of sweetness. Those who successfully completed were invited to put their taste buds to the test nationally by entering the “Kid with the Sharpest Taste Buds” Contest.

The competition in New York will test contestants’ ability to identify specific flavors while blindfolded and their overall knowledge of taste buds.

The finalists also will be judged in the “Ice Cube Challenge,” in which they will identify which refrigerated foods and ice cubes have been protected by Arm & Hammer baking soda.