Purdue students hit their Sara Lee creation out of the ballpark

April 23, 2010

Matt  Wolf introduces Triple Play while his Inside Outside Chili Dog teammates, from left, Tim Meier, Erin Rosswurm and Janie Stine, watch during the Sara Lee Innovation Award competition. The team's creation, a hot dog with chili in the middle that is baked in a pretzel bun, won the $10,000 prize. The contest was judged by Sara Lee representatives and Purdue professors. (Purdue University Photo/Andrew Hancock)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Four Purdue University students hit a home run and earned $10,000 with their winning version of a chili dog in the Thursday (April 22) Sara Lee Innovation Award competition.

The Inside Out Chili Dog team's creation, called the Triple Play, is a turkey dog with chili in the middle, baked in pretzel dough. Team members include Matt Wolf, Tim Meier, Erin Rosswurm and Janie Stine, all seniors in agricultural and biological engineering. The Triple Play is a co-extrusion innovation intended as a line extension of the Ball Park brand.

Wolf, who opened the presentation, said the team reinvented the hot dog while keeping the best attributes of a chili dog in mind. The Inside Out Chili Dog team and the other competing team, Queso2Go, began working last fall on the projects, which were scored by a panel of judges composed of Sara Lee executives and Purdue professors. Each product was judged on flavor, packaging, nutrition content, as well as plans for marketing, target audiences, production equipment and distribution to vendors.

The Queso2Go team was composed of Vaishnavi Chandrasekar, a master's student in food science; Katie Trevino-Zimmerman, a master's student in hospitality and tourism management; Jeffery Wells Lai, a junior in agricultural and biological engineering; Sonali Modi, a senior in chemical engineering; and Jacqueline Vahle, a senior in foods and nutrition in business. Their product is a breakfast quesadilla with authentic ingredients that features sealed sides for convenient eating on the go. The second place team, for the first time, was awarded a $1,000 prize by Sara Lee because the judges also were impressed with their product and presentation.

Students eligible to compete were from the sophomore to graduate level in five departments, including agricultural and biological engineering, chemical engineering, foods and nutrition, food science and hospitality and tourism management.

Products that would fit in Sara Lee's current product line were recommended. Thinking "real world" for product ideas, marketing and packaging is one of the challenges of this competition.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Marleen Troyer, event coordinator and assistant to the head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition, 765-494-1340, troyerm@purdue.edu