Saturday, June 27, 2015

A grown-up field trip

Wow! I had such an amazing (and super busy) few days in St. Louis with Purina. (The whole event kept giving me memories of field trips when I was a kid, which was kind of nostalgic in a way.) I attended the True Nature of Cats event at the Purina headquarters in St. Louis a couple of years ago, and at the time, I really didn't know much about Purina. I just love cats, and thought it sounded like fun to talk about cats for two days ;) I ended up learning more than I could have imagined, and the things I took away from that trip stick with me on a daily basis as a pet owner. Then, in October 2014, I attended Purina's Better With Pets summit in New York City, and that was SO inspiring.

I was so intrigued by Victoria Stilwell's dog training presentation at that summit, and it planted the seed in my head to consider getting a dog in the near future. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and then in February, we decided to adopt Joey. Having Joey has been life changing! I'm still more of a cat person, but now I can say that I really do love dogs, too.

Anyway, both of those events were packed full of amazing information about pets, so I was very excited when Purina invited me to their headquarters once again, this time for a "Meet Purina" event. The purpose of this event was more focused on who Purina is and what they do (in addition to producing pet food, of course). There were about 25 "digital influencers" who attended--not only bloggers, but also Instagramers and YouTubers.

We arrived on Wednesday. My flight got in at around 1:00 pm, and then I went to the hotel to hang out for a little bit until we had "Yappy Hour" (drinks and hors d'oeuvres) at a nice restaurant called Scape. I wanted to stay on track with Weight Watchers for the whole trip, so I was careful about what I ate. I recognized a couple of women from previous Purina events, so I chatted with them and of course met lots of new people (and pets! This was a pet-friendly happy hour, and I totally fell in love with Ruby Roo):

Ruby Roo only has two legs (her hind legs) and she's the
sweetest little doggy ever!

Thursday was a super busy day, starting at 7:30 AM. We went to the Purina headquarters first thing, and had breakfast while we were introduced to several people who would be working with us while we were there. Everybody was so very nice, and it was obvious how passionate they were about their jobs--that was a common theme on the whole campus, actually.

The campus is gorgeous!

We took a tour of campus, and then spent the rest of the morning checking out the research labs and learning about the product innovation. It was all very scientific, and kind of went right over my head, but I was amazed at how much is involved in developing new products.

Lunch was quite the experience! Purina has a chef on staff that uses trends in human foods to inspire new pet products, and she cooked an enormous feast for us. Look at this menu:

The family-style foods were on our table, and we passed those around. Meanwhile, Chef Amanda Hassner served the plated foods listed above. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I wanted to make sure to taste everything, even if I didn't think I'd like it (chicken hearts?!). I decided to take 1-2 bites of each item, which ended up being a good plan to not go overboard.

My favorite dish was the rice with botanical oil vinaigrette (it's under the pile of chicken skewers)... and the quinoa cake for dessert was pretty amazing as well! I left feeling satisfied, but not full, which was the goal.

After lunch, we interacted with the Purina brand teams, which was probably the most informative and interesting part of the event for me. There were two rooms set up like a trade show, and we walked around to talk about the different products and ask questions from each brand. At one table, for the Just Right line of food, I was so surprised when I was handed this bag:

It was actually kind of funny, because at first, I just looked at the words--"Joey's Blend"--and I said, "Oh, I have a dog named Joey!", thinking it was a coincidence. Haha, then I realized that the photo was actually Joey and me! The Just Right line is a food that is completely tailored to your dog based on a questionnaire that you fill out online. They put a cute, customized label on it, like the one of Joey and me, and then ship it to your house.

After that, we got on a bus to go to the Purina Farms, which are about an hour away. I had no idea that the place existed, but it was amazing. It's open to the public, and the whole place is dog-friendly. They have a huge building for dog shows and training. We were lucky enough to see some dogs show off their frisbee catching skills for us, which was really fun to watch. Here are a couple of videos:

We had dinner upstairs--an amazing barbecue spread. I tried to stick with healthier options (chicken instead of pulled pork, lots of veggies) to avoid a spending the 100 PointsPlus I easily could have spent. Someone mentioned that there was a chocolate cake for dessert, and I really wanted that. I decided to have just a couple of bites. I took the very last slice (which kind of fell apart on my plate), and it was SO AMAZING. I decided to go ahead and spend the 14 PP on it, and enjoy every bite.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel, and it was nearly 8:00 pm! I was exhausted, and I had plans to get up uber early (4:45) to meet up with a reader for a run on Friday morning. The plans for that were pretty spontaneous--someone named Alicia emailed me on Wednesday and said she reads my blog, and asked if I wanted some company on my run. I was a little intimidated to run Forest Park alone, for fear of getting lost, so I thought company would be nice!

This post is getting long, so I'll continue tomorrow... :) It feels good to be back home!

(In full disclosure, Purina sponsored my travel to St. Louis, but all opinions are honest--as always).


  1. This looks so fun! They sure went to a lot of planning for it! That's amazing they have a chef there who develops new pet food-- I love they offered customized pet food!

  2. Those videos are amazing! I clearly need more frisbees for my dogs :P

  3. We never doubt your honesty Katie. That's why you have so many readers, we can trust you to always speak the truth. The trip to Purina looks amazing, and the food? Oh my goodness, it would be tough for me to stay on track, for sure. Sounds like you did a good job. Can't wait to hear about the run through Forest Park with your blog reader.

  4. Oh my goodness....that Chihuahua is so adorable!! She looks a lot like my Chihuey, Chloe, who passed away a few years ago!! They melt my heart!!

  5. looked like an awesome time, and Ruby Roo is adorable!


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