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Food science teams find winning recipe for national food competitions

The UW-Madison food science club has three new awards to add to its trophy case after spending this past week at the Institute for Food Technologists (IFT) annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The club fielded two teams in a Disney-sponsored collegiate food product development competition, and won first and second place for their innovative, healthy, kid-friendly products. Top prize went to a five-person team led by Kristen Doster that developed Peanut Butter Jamsicles, a popsicle version of the classic PB&J sandwich. The other UW team in the contest, led by Teresa Tierney, took second place for Pit Stop, a Cars movie-themed smoothie composed of a purple layer of fruit and vegetable juices and a white layer of Greek yogurt that kids can shake up themselves.

In a separate contest sponsored the Mars company, a third UW team, led by Tim Grady, won second place for Cranberry POPlers, a microwavable frozen snack made of sweet potato-enriched soft pretzels stuffed with cranberry filling.

No doubt the UW-Madison will be seen as the school to beat in next year’s competitions—especially given that the Badgers have had an outsized presence in the contests in recent years. This is the second year in a row that three Badger teams have advanced to the finals.

The contests represent the culmination of nearly 10 months of work for the students, starting at the beginning of the previous academic year. They brainstorm in the fall, and once they settle on a product, they prepare dozens of batches over the following months to fine-tune the recipe. In late winter they submit a written proposal, and if they’re accepted into the finals, they must expand their proposal into a written report and prepare presentations for the judges.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s also rewarding. Being a contest winner looks great on the resume. And there’s always a chance that the product will make it to market.

“Disney owns the intellectual rights to the products in the Disney competition,” says Grady, “so you could actually see those products on store shelves someday.”

For information, contact Kristen Doster, doster@wisc.edu, (920) 655-2755; Tim Grady, tgrady@wisc.edu; Teresa Tierney, tltierney@wisc.edu, (651) 325-7402; or Amy DeJong, adejong@wisc.edu, (847) 804-0658.