Cheerio, Cheerios

Penn State students pack a lot of dairy into their 'Mooofins'

The novel dairy-based, quiche-like muffin targets adult consumers who want to start the day with a high-protein breakfast item

Dairy Research Institute New Product Competition. The winning student team from Pennsylvania State University MoofinsDid you eat breakfast this morning? About 1 of 7 Americans do not break the fast on a typical day. That's 42 million people, according to the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in Rosemont, Ill.

But fear not. In my support of the dairy industry, I picked up the slack. One morning in April I stepped up to the plate seven times. I started the day with breakfast at home (the usual Greek yogurt and fresh fruit) and then over three hours I sampled six breakfast concepts concocted by bright young students at U.S. universities.

The student teams were competing in the second annual New Product Competition sponsored by the Innovation Center, the organization funded by the country's dairy farmers. The students were charged with creating a healthful dairy-based breakfast item that delivered protein, tasted great and was easy to prepare and eat.

High atop Dairy Management Inc. headquarters, DMI staff rolled carts through the conference room and delivered food samples created by the students. It was like being in a dim sum restaurant, except there were no egg rolls, dumplings or noodle dishes. Instead, the judges tasted dairy-based treats with fanciful names like Mooofins, Easy Qurd and Whey-Go.

We listened through a video hook-up as the students presented their concepts and took questions from the panel. I channeled my inner Ted Allen, the suave host of "Chopped," the Food Network cooking competition. Chopped was the food item that fell apart in my hand. Chopped was the concept with the overly generous serving size.

The best ideas were really good. The product developers understood the brief, they created a product that worked and was tasty. First place went to the team from Pennsylvania State University for their "Mooofins," a quiche-like muffin in a variety of flavors, including blueberry sausage, maple bacon Cheddar and bell pepper mushroom. Not only did the students have to formulate the food, but also they had to manufacture it, cost out the ingredients and put together a marketing plan. If it takes a village of bright young students to develop an awarding-winning breakfast food, then State College, Pa., is the village you want to live in.

Iowa State University earned second place with "DayBreakers," an American twist on gulabjamun, a fried Indian food. The French toast stick-shaped food is made with milk protein concentrate and nonfat dried milk. The Ohio State University's Whey-Go combines egg, cheese, bacon and waffles. The microwaveable dish contains fat-free milk, low-fat American and Swiss cheese, whey protein and unsalted butter.

So what did I do after a morning of sampling breakfast foods? When the clock struck noon, the Innovation Center served us lunch.  I was on my own for dinner, though. If I were a rose bush, I would be considered a "heavy feeder."

Read more about the competition in Bill Graves' guest blog, " Dairy helps meet morning mealtime nutrition needs."

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