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Lessons Learned From Renowned Product Testing That Spans Half A Century

In ancient Rome, a figure named Curio graced the city with his innovative and visionary spirit. Known as an “orator”, a master of public speaking with the power to sway emotions and beliefs, his legacy was engraved in history with his visionary development of Rome’s first amphitheater. Curio’s work and life was a beautiful mix of fresh thinking and the establishment of a timeless icon. By blending his innovation with tradition, he left a permanent mark on the world.

Fast forward to this modern era, where the spirit of Curio sparked inspiration and meaning behind Curion’s namesake: with proven methods and fresh thinking, Curion continues to drive innovation.

Curion is known for delivering impactful product and consumer insights to many of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies, helping them develop winning, repeatedly purchased products. Armed with deep data-driven insights, sensory expertise, and state-of-the-art consumer centers, Curion delivers results that impact critical client objectives.

With a rich history and experience that spans five decades in the product testing and consumer research industry, Curion continues to guide clients with their proprietary Product Experience Performance (PXP)™  platform, connecting brands to consumers at every step.

Today, Curion is recognized as one of the largest product and consumer insights companies in the U.S. with a reputation for excellence and trust across the world’s leading consumer brands.


Rich beginnings set the stage

Dating back to 1974, the company originated in California, just south of San Francisco, with the launch of Tragon Corporation. As a successful spin-off from Stanford Research Institute, Tragon was founded by Dr. Herbert Stone, Ph.D. and Joel L. Sidel and grew to become a leader in sensory evaluation and testing, offering full-service consumer goods research. The company pioneered many recognized sensory methods that are considered industry standards today.

Herbert Stone was a former Director of Stanford Research Institute’s (SRI) Food & Agricultural Sciences Department from 1962 through 1974. While there, he was Project Team Lead for the food delivery system for the Apollo mission to the moon. When he met Joel Sidel, the pair developed the sensory method, Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA). Tragon Corporation was launched based on the innovation, where Stone served as President from 1974 through 2008.

Through his career, he formed strong ties to industry organizations like Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). He served on the Board of Directors at IFT in 1994 and as IFT President in 2004. He was also awarded an IFT Distinguished Service Award as well as a Sensory and Consumer Sciences Achievement Award. Herbert was also the 2010 recipient of the ASTM E18 Peryam Award for contributions to the science of sensory evaluation, praised for his work on the creation of QDA, one of only two recognized ASTM methods.

Dr. Stone has authored over 150 publications and holds six patents. Sidel also has 45 authored publications that have contributed to the learning and development of sensory science. The pair had co-authored a book, highly recognized and constantly acknowledged, “Sensory Evaluation Practices: A Volume in Food Science and Technology” (Second Edition, 1993; Third Edition, 2004).

Cumulatively, Dr. Stone and Joel Sidel had over half a century experience in the field of sensory evaluation. They conducted domestic and international workshops; designed, analyzed, and reported on over 10,000 sensory tests; and acted as sensory consultants to the senior management of most major food and consumer products companies.


Forging the path to growth

With a strong foundation and rich beginnings, Curion has evolved into a well-known and historically recognized leader.

Tragon pioneered many sensory methodologies now considered industry standards, including QDA®, QSI®, and PROP™. Tragon also owned consumer testing facilities in California and Chicago that are powered by a web-based, real-time data collection technology system developed by Tragon.

In 2017, Tragon Corporation merged with Q Research Solutions (QRS) to form QRS-Tragon, one of the largest sensory and consumer products research companies in the US.

Q Research Solutions, founded in 1983, held headquarters in Old Bridge, New Jersey, at a company-owned testing facility that provided sensory research and consumer product testing to clients in categories such as food and beverage, health and beauty, personal care, home and fabric, pet care, weight management, and fine fragrance. Through a company-developed technology, qPOD® Fragrance & Aroma Testing, QRS became an asset for its fragrance-focused clients with its one-of-a-kind evaluation tool for fragrances and aromas.

The merger joined together more strategic advantages that gave QRS-Tragon a strong competitive edge. Through a global network of certified partnerships, QRS provided a large worldwide reach for consumer and product testing that Curion still runs in present day. Also, still running today, the Q Partnership Solutions™ platform helped clients’ marketing and research departments develop and implement their own research programs to support business goals.

Shortly after in 2018, QRS-Tragon rebranded to become Curion, inspired by the Roman Orator, Curio.

Newly named and with a plan in place for future growth, Curion acquired PVR Research in 2020 to expand its presence in the southern states. Founded in 1965, PVR Research (Phyliis Vail Research) is a field service marketing research company that comes with its own rich history and state-of-the-art research facilities and labs in Atlanta, Georgia.

This integration expanded Curion’s consumer insights capabilities beyond sensory science to include technology-advanced benefits for QSR clients – a natural next step toward growth. PVR Research also brought a wide variety of qualitative and quantitative research that includes taste tests, sensory testing, focus groups, in-depth interviews, mock jury, off-site intercepts, in-store intercepts, children studies, telephone interviews/surveys, and consumer goods and product testing.

In 2021, Curion acquired Ravel to help broaden insights capabilities through strong market research and qualitative solutions. Formerly known as Smith Dahmer Associates, Ravel was founded in 1991 and brings more than 30 years of experience with a fun-loving attitude, fresh thinking, and a philosophy that puts people at the forefront. Ravel has deep expertise in qualitative and quantitative research, as well as product and service ideation.

Continuous growth and success brings Curion to it’s 50th anniversary in 2024, as well as the anniversary of its first creation – Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA).


Celebrating half a century of growth, learning, and success

When Herbert Stone and Joel Sidel originally founded Tragon, the purpose was to develop and market their groundbreaking QDA methodology.

Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA) is a sensory evaluation solution that measures behavior with the use of descriptive panels in order to measure sensory characteristics of a product.

Sensory evaluation relies on human input to measure and interpret sensory responses to products. Since the use of people is essential to collect insights for products, the QDA methodology asks panelists to use their senses to identify and express distinctions in products and provide a nuanced understanding, in their own language, of their attributes.

Originally developed 50 years ago within the food industry, QDA is now the foundation of many studies that involve the senses, such as apparel, beauty and cosmetics, durable goods, and electronics. The two developers have been widely recognized, noted by scholars, and awarded for this development.

See how QDA helped meet key business objectives here:


History is our greatest teacher

The future of Curion remains bright, with more growth and expansions in key focus areas on the horizon. Over half a century, we’ve learned valuable lessons dipped from the past.

  1. Innovation anchored in tradition: Embrace the blend of innovation with tradition, just like Curio in ancient Rome, and be proud of your legacy that stands the test of time. With a culture that values both innovation and tradition, Curion can consistently deliver cutting-edge solutions while maintaining a strong foundation of proven methodologies.
  2. Collaborative industry leadership: Grow and nurture strong ties with industry organizations and actively contribute to the field, as demonstrated by Dr. Herbert Stone and Joel Sidel’s extensive involvement. Establishing deep relationships continues to position Curion at the forefront of industry advancements and trends.
  3. Strategic Mergers for Competitive Edge: Strategic mergers, as seen in the merger of Tragon Corporation with Q Research Solutions, can provide a competitive edge and enhance capabilities. Our strategic mergers, along with PVR Research and Ravel, provided unique advantages and expanded capabilities that strengthened Curion’s position in the market.
  4. Diversification Beyond Sensory Science: Expand capabilities beyond sensory science, demonstrated by the acquisitions of PVR Research and Ravel, to offer comprehensive consumer insights and product testing services. Curion’s diversification services a broader range of client needs and adapts to evolving industry demands.
  5. Adaptability and Evolution: Embrace change and evolve with the times, proven in the evolution from Tragon Corporation to QRS-Tragon and finally to Curion. Curion remains adaptable and agile to ensure we remain relevant and resilient in the constantly changing market landscape. The ability to embrace change and evolve positions Curion to navigate future challenges, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and sustain growth over the next 50 years.



Half a decade of history, preserved in time

1974: Tragon Corporation was founded by Dr. Herbert Stone and Joel L. Sidel.

1974: Launch of Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA).

1983: Q Research Solutions (QRS) was founded.

1992: Dr. Herbert Stone and Joel L. Sidel co-authored “Sensory Evaluation Practices: Food and Science Technology Series.”

1994-1997: Dr. Herbert Stone sat on the IFT Board of Directors.

2004: Dr. Herbert Stone served as President of the Institute of Food Technologists.

2010: Dr. Herbert Stone received the ASTM E18 Peryam Award for contributions to the science of sensory evaluation.

2011: Dr. Herbert Stone awarded Institute of Food Technologists – Calvert L. Willey Distinguished Service Award.

2012 07 July: Launch of qPOD®, a customized portable olfactory device revolutionizing the testing of scents and aromas.

2014: Dr. Herbert Stone awarded Institute of Food Technologists – Sensory and Consumer Sciences Achievement Award.

2017 08 August: QRS-Tragon was founded, based on a merger between Q Research Solutions and Tragon Corporation, forming one of the largest sensory and consumer products research companies in the US.

2018 01 January: QRS-Tragon announces corporate name change to Curion.

2019 02 February: Curion joins CFBN as newest cornerstone member.

2019 02 February: Launch of eFive ™, a service that quickly delivers reliable consumer insights and is both affordable for emerging brands and positioned to be part of the agile development process that large CPG companies require.

2020 03 March: Launch of Curion LifeLabs to conduct consumer testing in real-world settings.

2020 04 April: Curion launches new merger and acquisition strategy to expand footprint.

2020 12 December: Curion acquires PVR Research and expands services to deeper QSR solutions.

2021 11 November: Curion acquires Ravel to broaden its insight capabilities with deep expertise in qualitative and quantitative research, as well as product and service ideation.

2022 04 April: Curion introduces new podcast channel “Innovation, Insights & Impact.”

2022 09 September: Curion launches new product benchmarking game-changer: The Curion Score™

2022 11 November: Launch of Fuel, combining our JTBD capabilities into a solution that can be utilized in early stages of product innovation.

2022 12 December: Curion announces new metropolitan state-of-the-art Atlanta area testing consumer center in Sandy Springs.

2023 02 February: Product Experience and Performance (PXP™) operating platform announced.

2023 05 May: Curion joined Better Business Bureau with A+ rating from consumers.

2023 07 July: Curion awarded as a Quirks Top Company in Taste Test and Sensory Research

2023 01 October: Curion explores AI effectiveness to advance the connection between people and brands.

2024 and beyond: Further exploration into AI and new technologies to continue to improve processes and better connect brands to their consumers. Deep thought leadership expansion. Further growth and expansion of Curion through strategic acquisitions.


About Curion:

Curion specializes in delivering impactful insights to the world’s top CPG companies, helping them develop winning, repeatedly purchased products. Curion’s deep data-driven product insights, sensory expertise, and state-of-the-art consumer centers enable them to uncover responses to critical client objectives. With over five decades of experience in the product testing industry, Curion is dedicated to guiding clients with their proprietary Product Experience and Performance (PXP™) platform, connecting brands to consumers at every step. An innovator in the industry, Curion recently developed a groundbreaking benchmarking product testing method, the Curion Score™, which has become a trusted and sought after tool within the industry. As one of the largest product and consumer insights companies in the U.S., Curion has built a reputation for excellence and trust among the world’s leading consumer brands. Curion’s commitment to innovation and expertise, coupled with a passion for delivering actionable insights, makes Curion a valuable partner for companies looking to develop and launch successful products.