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CALS student food development team heads to contest finals

Mickioli is a healthy waffle sandwich made from quinoa, a nutrient-packed, gluten-free grain.
Mickioli is a healthy waffle sandwich made from quinoa, a nutrient-packed, gluten-free grain.

It’s a challenge that parents face every day: Make healthy food taste good so that their kids will actually eat it. A UW-Madison food development team has done just that, and on June 8 they’ll head to Disneyland to showcase their creation before a panel of industry judges.

The team has made it to the finals in a food product development competition sponsored by Disney and the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association. Their creation, Mickioli, will vie against those of teams from five other universities for a grand prize of $2,500.

The goal of the competition is to create a fun and nutritious fruit or beverage that can be marketed toward kids. “The product has to have a fruit or vegetable ingredient and has to be Disney-themed,” says Andy Renaud, a member of the UW-Madison Food Science Club and leader of the team going to the competition.

Mickioli is a waffle sandwich snack shaped like the head of Mickey Mouse. The waffles used to make the sandwich aren’t of the average frozen-food variety – they are made from quinoa, a nutrient-packed, gluten-free grain. Mickioli also gets a health kick from its layers of wholesome strawberry and yogurt filling.

The Mickioli team includes five students from the food science department: Renaud, Destanie Schneider, Merike Seaman, Raechel Bartz and Lisa Zychowski. All were involved in conceptualizing and developing the product.

Also involved was Rich Hartel, the club’s adviser, who worked with Renaud to help the team get Mickioli off the drawing board. Sponsors include Nestle and the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research.

Past UW-Madison teams have won other IFT-sponsored food product development competitions, and the current team hopes to follow suit. But just getting this far is huge, Renaud says.

“It would be great if we won, and if someone eventually manufactured Mickioli,” says Renaud. “But if we don’t, I’m just happy that we get to go to the competition and present it.”

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