|CREATING FOODS FOR THE FUTURE||August 29, 1996|
|By Susan Anderson|
A team of six Iowa State University students may have Rice Krispies Treats on their minds. That's because their idea for a new snack food recently received an honorable mention in a product development competition, and they may be hoping it meets with the same success as the aforementioned chewy cereal snack.
Mildred Day, who died in June at the age of 92, was a 1928 home economics graduate from Iowa State. Day is credited with the development of Rice Krispies Treats. She worked for Kellogg Co., the maker of Rice Krispies, and used the cereal to develop the snack as a fundraiser for a Camp Fire Girls group.
You would be hard-pressed to name another snack that is as much of a universal favorite of both children and adults. But perhaps this latest group of students in the Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) department are following in Day's footsteps.
This is the first ISU team to make it to the finals of the product competition sponsored by the Institute of Food Technologists. They did it with "Skoochos," an extruded, stick-shaped chip made largely from corn flour and corn starch. It's described by team captain Amy Konkoly as "puffy, yet crunchy in texture."
The team envisioned the snack being marketed in single servings with a dip on the side. "It was fun thinking about the possibilities," Konkoly said. They settled on two combinations. One featured a parmesan cheese and herb coating, accompanied by a marinara sauce. The second option was a cinnamon and sugar coating, with an apple-cinnamon dip.
Fourteen teams had submitted pre-proposals, with six chosen for the finals. Along with a 20-page proposal describing the snack production process, the finalists were judged on a 10-minute presentation, a poster session and a taste test of their snack. In the end, top honors went to Cornell University's "Stir-Ins," which were thin cookie sticks that added flavors to coffee when used as stirrers.
But Konkoly said that although they didn't win, she and her teammates felt the experience they gained was irreplaceable. Pam White, FSHN interim chair, agreed. "They learned things they never would have learned in class," White said. "Much of the basis for this type of project starts in the classroom, but it takes the footwork and research and actual experiences to make it come alive for students."
Konkoly praised faculty members who helped team members when they had questions. "The food science faculty at ISU is outstanding," she said. White said this was truly a student project, but faculty members are always happy to help where needed with this type of extracurricular activity.
"We have an excellent program to prepare students for jobs in foods research and development," White said. "We can help provide lots of internships and laboratory experience."
White also said there are plenty of job opportunities in the food industry. "We don't have enough students to supply the industry with the graduates it needs." Now there's a statement that should interest young people as they munch on Rice Krispies Treats, mulling their futures.