The amazing workers from 21st Sensory wave farewell

21st Sensory Closes Business

Bartlesville, OK January 2, 2013

After 19 years as one of the leading sensory and consumer research companies in the nation, 21st Sensory has closed for business. "The recession finally affected us", said Kathleen Rutledge, President and CEO. "We rely on R and D budgets. Our clients slashed those budgets and the company was unsustainable with the diminishing level of work."

21st Sensory conducted sensory research for more than 200 companies worldwide. Trained sensory descriptive panelists conducted research on foods, beverages, and personal care products. Unique research projects have included measuring the effectiveness of masking diaper pail aroma, measuring the "clean feel" of toothbrushes, and sending mobiles panels to Ohio to work at a client's test kitchen and another panel to Toronto.

The sensory testing and consumer research company was established by Kathleen Rutledge when she and her group of eleven trained sensory panelists were laid off in 1994 by Provesta Corporation. Rutledge originally leased space in Eastland Shopping Center. In 2006, Rutledge purchased the old downtown clinic building from Jane Phillips. The company relocated when extensive remodeling was completed in November 2007.

In one of the most interesting projects, panelists did flavor analysis on 300 coded samples of butter in random order. The data set demonstrated that a spill of fruit juice concentrate had tainted hundreds of pallets of butter stored in the warehouse. Even more interesting, the data clearly showed the stronger concentration of the fruit flavor taint near the spill and virtually no taint in areas furthest from the spill. This project was a powerful demonstration of the panelists' acute tasting and measuring skills.

21st Sensory was active in supporting community programs. Over the years, the company paid out over a third of a million dollars to individuals and fund raising groups who have participated in consumer research projects. Extra food products were donated to local food banks and after school programs. The company donated to charitable events and organizations annually.

Anyone with questions, please call Kathleen Rutledge at 918-914-1384 or email at