NEW ORLEANS -- With pencil-shaped, chocolate-covered cookies called Stir-Ins, which add flavor to coffee, Cornell University students on Monday (June 24) won the national championship at the Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) annual student food product competition.
"We could hear it crunch! Yes!" said Kathryn Deibler, Cornell graduate student and member of the team, describing the judges' correct use of the cookie. "Then, the judges asked if they could keep the red Cornell coffee mugs. Yes!"
The Cornell team was one of six finalists in the prestigious IFT Student Association 1996 Product Development Competition, held in New Orleans at the IFT annual meeting. The team won the $1,000 first prize with their hazelnut flavored chocolate Stir-In product.
This is the second consecutive year Cornell has won the competition. Last year, the Cornell team unseated the four-year reigning champion, the University of Minnesota, with tasty and toaster-ready Pizza Pop-ups. The IFT Student Association names six universities each year to compete in the finals of the Product Development Competition, sponsored by Mars Inc.
This year, Cornell's Stir-Ins faced second-place Harvest Moons (University of Minnesota); third-place Biscuit Bakes (Kansas State University); and Skoochos (Iowa State University), Jungle Pals (Michigan State University) and the Bagelrrito (University of California at Davis).
Joseph Regenstein, Cornell professor of food science and team adviser, said that the competition provides good exposure for the students. More than 20,000 people attended the IFT convention in New Orleans this year.
Team members are from both Cornell's Ithaca, N.Y., campus and Cornell's Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y.
Cornell team members and their hometowns are: Susan P. Connell, graduate student, Thousand Oaks, Calif.; Ellen Chamberlain, graduate student, Des Plaines, Ill.; Sheila Sidhu, graduate student, Scotch Plains, N.J.; Kathryn Deibler, graduate student, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.; Alison Edwards, graduate student, Sea Girt, N.J.; Kathleen Kostival, graduate student, Reading, Pa.; Sarah Douglas, graduate student, Apple Creek, Ohio; Dawn-Marie Norton, graduate student, Camarillo, Calif.; Rachel Adleman, Cornell '96, Ithaca, N.Y.; Jane Friedrich, graduate student, St. Cloud, Minn.; Matthew Sade, graduate student, Mendham, N.J.; Mariano Tosso, graduate student, Las Pampas, Argentina.
The Cornell team had prepared for six months designing and creating the product, which all came down to this past weekend of judging, tasting and answering very technical questions about Stir-Ins. The product, for which Cornell will seek a patent, is a cookie wrapped in chocolate and topped with a flavor, like Hazelnut, French Vanilla, or Irish Creme, that dissolves when stirred into hot coffee. Once the coffee is flavored, the java drinker then can enjoy a crunchy chocolate-dipped cookie.
The IFT competition consisted of an oral presentation in front of the judges and an overflow audience, a tasting session, a poster display and a detailed written report.
In February, the team submitted a five-page report to the IFT Student Association, detailing the product concept, market potential, the product formulation, a description of the product packaging, an explanation of the production process and a report of safety and quality assurance.
"The students have shown that they can apply their understanding of food science to produce solutions to real-world problems -- problems that are quite complex," said Regenstein, the team adviser.