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Team ‘Churriosity’ savors victory in ice cream project

For the final project in the Food Science 1101 introductory course, more than 100 students were divided into eight teams to create an ice cream inspired by the theme “flavor is information.” Judges determined Nov. 29 that Churriosity, based on the Mexican churro dessert in a cinnamon and chocolate base and a dark chocolate fudge swirl, won. Above, ‘Churriosity’ ice cream. Photo by Jason Koski/Cornell Brand Communications

Make room, pistachio and butter pecan. A new ice cream from aspiring Cornell food scientists may soon reach the sweet summit of flavor nobility: “Churriosity.”

For the final project in the Food Science 1101 introductory course, more than 100 students were divided into eight teams to create an ice cream inspired by the theme “flavor is information.” Judges determined Nov. 29 that Churriosity, based on the Mexican churro dessert in a cinnamon and chocolate base and a dark chocolate fudge swirl, won.

The Cornell Dairy Plant will produce it on Slope Day 2019.

Christopher Loss ’96, M.S. ’01, Ph.D. ’06, the Louis Pasteur Food Science Lecturer who teaches the class, announced the winner. “Your flavor is unique, but not overly complicated. There is great potential for broad appeal among a diversity of consumers,” he said. “Churriosity successfully integrates and balances new and familiar flavors, satisfying the average consumer’s drive for flavor exploration without alienating the neophobic consumer.”

Members of team “Currant Events,” from left, Daniella Spector ’19, Arielle Bell ’20, Amanda Cort ’19 and Christine Yang ’20, explain their flavor to judges and other students. Currant Events was a vanilla ice cream with the red currant jam swirl and a graham cracker crumble. Photo by Jason Koski/Cornell Brand Communications

For Churriosity, licking the competition was not easy. Runner-up “The 4-1-1” dove into a global theme featuring a chocolate-orange base, a tahini caramel swirl and toasted hazelnuts. “Clickbait” had a trendy blue base, with honey and morsels of pistachio. And “Big Red Bang” offered a subtle pomegranate base with crunch and chocolate-covered Pop Rocks candy.

Another group created “Around the World (in One Flavor),” a chai and matcha tea-based flavor, finished with a dulce de leche swirl. Julie Goddard ’99, Ph.D. ’08, associate professor of food science and a competition judge, commented: “Not every ice cream needs 12 candy bars. This is a very smooth ice cream.”

Beyond ice cream, Loss’s semester-long course reviewed sensory science, food safety, product development and marketing, ingredient functionality and an overview of production.

Churriosity team leader Hailey Schwartz ’21 explained that the team created prototypes of the ice cream before production, experimenting with different ingredient combinations in small sample batches. “It was fun seeing what worked and what didn’t,” she said.

Lauren Rijo ’20 loved the creative freedom. “It was cool to order all of the ingredients for our prototype and not be confined to a list of limited ingredients,” she said. “One of my favorite parts about designing the ice cream was actually making it in the Dairy Plant.”

The teams faced one surprise: numbers. “Producing the ice cream in the Dairy Plant involved a lot of math,” said Mary Essex ’19. “We had to balance the ratio of liquid flavors to solid flavors and determine the amount of ingredients to add, and calculate the amount of air we wanted in our final product.”

For every group, a key ingredient was teamwork. “I was surprised at how crucial the collaborative aspect of the project was for us,” said Laura Cvetkovski ’20. “This is truly not something that one person can do alone – not only because flavor is experienced differently by different people, but also because of how everyone brought crucial information and insight to our final presentation.”

Other Churriosity team members were Zoe Alcott ’22, Pedro Guicardi ’22, Hope Jarrard ’22, Jennifer King ’20, Dana Luong ’20, Rocio Hernandez ’22, Caleb Oh ’20, Kayla Reiner ’21, Katie Riha ’22, Grace Tamisiea ’22 and Sarah Xu ’20.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.