Students scoop $10,000 for carbonated ice cream

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Nate Edwards
A family samples Sparkling Scoops ice cream in this BYU promotional image. A team of BYU students recently presented the carbonated ice cream on Aug. 11 for the Idaho Milk Processors Association’s annual Dairy Product Innovation Competition. (Nate Edwards)

A team of food science majors from BYU walked away with the $10,000 grand prize at a dairy product development competition on Aug. 11 by creating a carbonated ice cream.

The team’s carbonated hard-pack ice cream, Sparkling Scoops, blends the experience of eating ice cream with drinking soda. Sparkling Scoops’ flavor and packaging impressed the judges at the Idaho Milk Processors Association’s annual Dairy Product Innovation Competition, leading to BYU’s fifth victory since the competition began in 2007.

Alan Reed, the chair of the Product Innovation Competition, was impressed with the presentation of Sparkling Scoops. “They had the packaging; they had the marketing; they had the entire product ready to go.”

While BYU is a veteran to the competition, they met an unexpected challenge from BYU—Idaho’s team who brought a hard-pack carbonated ice cream of their own.

“Several months before the competition, the judges contacted us and asked if we were working together with BYU—Idaho because it seemed like we were making the exact same product,” said David Doxey, a co-captain of BYU’s team. “There was no cross-consulting going on. It was actually a huge surprise.”

Sparkling Scoops carbonated ice cream packaging is reminiscent of retro soda cans. (Nate Edwards)

Knowing another team was bringing the same product to the competition, the team needed to differentiate themselves and make sure their final product was as close to perfect as possible.

Deb Hutchins, a team member and graphic designer, stressed how important the team knew their presentation and packaging were in distinguishing their product.

“We needed to have the confidence to go forward knowing there’s no way that they had a better package; we couldn’t imagine something better than ours,” she said.

Both teams had two of their three flavors in common: root beer float and orange cream. However, BYU—Idaho’s carbonated ice cream, Sparks, fell flat and ended up taking fourth place in the competition.

Kate Hatchett, a co-captain with Doxey, was told by judges that their product was more carbonated, retained CO2 better, and had more potential to be scaled up for mass production than the Idaho counterpart.

“BYU—Idaho did a great job. I learned a lot from them, and it was very interesting to see the similarities and differences,” Hatchett said.

Over the course of the competition there were innovative and novel dairy products invented by aspiring food scientists, but none have ever been adopted by commercial companies and put into production lines. The BYU team said they hope Sparkling Scoops will break this trend.

“We are sending some samples today to a commercial company that is interested. The Creamery is also interested in looking at it,” BYU professor Michael Dunn said. “Honestly, we can’t say it is necessarily commercially viable right now because we haven’t actually tried it out in a commercial plant. The next step will be to scale up operations.”

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