UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When you think of national championships and Penn State defeating teams from Iowa State and Ohio State universities, you think football, volleyball or wrestling, right?
But the Food Science Product Development Team?
Well, you can add muffins -- or rather Mooofins -- to footballs, volleyballs and wrestling mats as props for a student squad title. This time it wasn't the NCAA that awarded the mantle of excellence; instead, it was the American Dairy Research Institute.
At the recent American Dairy Science Association meeting in Indianapolis, Mooofins were named the best of the best in the Dairy Research Institute's New Product Competition. The top three teams in the competition came to the meeting to find out whether they had earned first, second or third place.
Penn State’s team of developers learned they had won first place, followed by Ohio State and Iowa State.
The challenge for the student developers was that the foods had to be high-protein, dairy-based products for the morning meal containing at least 51 percent dairy ingredients.
The Penn State team created quiche-like muffins that "reinvent" an underutilized dairy product -- cottage cheese. Cottage cheese curds are dispersed throughout the Mooofin base and are paired with signature flavors, such as blueberry sausage, maple bacon and bell pepper mushroom.
Team members -- all food science majors representing the College of Agricultural Sciences -- are Megan Woo, a senior from San Francisco; Jared Smith, a senior from Lebanon; Kelsey Rogers, a senior from Howard; Anthony Herdzik, a senior from Rochester, N.Y.; Kenny Vogel, a junior from Topsfield, Mass.; Shaina Melnick, a junior from Mount Joy; and Andrew Elder, a junior from Bellefonte.
After inventing the product, the team submitted a product proposal, sent samples to judges and gave a webinar presentation. At the Dairy Research Institute reception in Indianapolis, team members showcased their product, answered questions and met members of the Iowa State and Ohio State teams.
"When we found out that we won first place we were ecstatic," said Woo. "It was great to know that all the hard work and dedication the team put in over the past year paid off. Overall, this competition was a very challenging yet rewarding learning experience. It stretched the team in many ways and we all learned a lot about product development and teamwork in the process."
The team received an $8,000 check and a plaque with members' names engraved on it that will be displayed in the Food Science Department office.
The team's adviser, Daniel Azzara, Alan R. Warehime Professor of Food and Agribusiness, said he and the students would like to take their victory a step further and see what it takes to commercialize the product.
"We will use the success of Mooofins to explore proprietary issues, seek out possible business partners, expand consumer testing and set up a business plan leading potentially to launching the product," he said. "This will be a great learning experience."
In addition to exciting future possibilities, the team is enjoying the current success of Mooofins, which were shown at the U.S. Dairy Export Council's booth at the International Food Technologists meeting this month in Chicago.
"The students on the team continue to do a good job presenting the product to a variety of professional audiences, and they represent Penn State very well," Azzara added. "They are already thinking about next year's competition focused on dairy products for aging baby boomers."