Growing up in the family sweet shop was the perfect grounding for Aine Hickey when she successfully applied for the job as the official Irish sweet taster for Swizzels.
There were thousands of applications when the famous English-based sweet brand, which produces such iconic sweets as Love Hearts, Refreshers and Fruity Pops, launched the search for someone to take on the job on a yearâ€™s contract.
â€œMy friends saw it on Facebook and heard about it on Today FM and suggested that I applyâ€, says Aine. â€I wrote a 500-word application and received an e-mail to say I had been shortlisted. They told me I got the job after I did an interview over the phoneâ€.
To celebrate her first day on the job Aine was flown over to spend the day behind the scenes at the headquarters of confectionery manufacturers Swizzels Matlow in New Mills, Derbyshire, near Stockport, to see how the sweets are made.
â€œThe whole experience was amazing, from the walk-up to the factory gate where you instantly get the aroma of sweets to seeing how my favourite sweets are madeâ€, she says. â€œI felt like a child at Christmas who got everything on their wish list, putting the individual phrases on Love Hearts and seeing the soft chew of Refresher bars packaged up in bright colours.
I was also trained how to taste sweets properly and use the five senses, not just my tongueâ€.
Aine works with healthcare company Boston Scientific in Clonmel and lives in Kilsheelan with husband Brian Hickey.
She grew up in the family sweet shop owned by her parents Ann and Johnny Dempsey, and which is now owned by Ollie Maher.
For the next year she will be part of the Swizzels new product development team, receiving a box of sweets every month. She will be responsible for taste testing new sweets and products before they hit the shelves, as well as helping to develop new tastes and flavours.
Aine says that sheâ€™s not worried about the damage that her new job might cause her teeth â€œbecause I love sweets anywayâ€.