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DC’s FFA food science team wins Totino’s Challenge, will compete at nationals
JAN. 20, 2014

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

DASSEL-COKATO, MN – Watch your grocer’s freezer for a new kind of frozen pizza, courtesy of Dassel-Cokato FFA’s Food Science team.

That is the team’s hope anyway after winning the Totino’s Challenge.

The team – Alyssa Torola, Misty Peterson, Christina Babb, Lydia Meredith, and Kaitlyn Uldrych as alternate – competed against 13 other teams from across the state Jan. 10 at Southwest State University-Marshall.

As part of the Totino’s Challenge, the first-year team was to create a new variety for the pizza company. This included everything from making a pizza from scratch, to marketing and pricing the product.

In an effort to appeal to young professionals, the team came up with a chicken alfredo pizza with spinach and garlic. This was also nothing like what the company currently has now, Torola noted.

Not only was the team responsible for the development of a new pizza variety, but it also had to develop a marketing and production plan (Babb), calculate the nutrition label (Torola), design packaging (Meredith), and determine pricing (Peterson).

The team also provided a one-minute commercial marketing their product to the judges.

Torola shared the storyline that the team developed. Uldrych created the lyrics to the tune “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors. Instead, their song was “Best Pizza of My Life.”

Torola explained the commercial’s storyline, which centered around a couple dining in a romantic candle-lit setting with a Totino’s pizza in the center.

The man takes out a jewelry box, ready to propose, as the woman takes a bite of her pizza saying, “This is the best pizza of my life.”

The man then decides to propose another time and enjoy the pizza, as well.

“You could tell the judges really liked it,” Torola said.

With this being the first year this particular food science team competed, they were surprised to find out they won first place.

“I wasn’t expecting us to do so well,” Torola said. “I was really surprised,” she said of winning.

Danita Piepenburg, the food science coach for the past nine years, said the team did a lot of research of the Totino’s company and the product.

“They wanted to keep [their pizza] within the product’s [current] identity,” Piepenburg said. This also included the price range.

They even watched old Totino’s commercials, she said.

Along with that, the team also wanted to provide a new flavor with a new twist on the product.

‘They worked hard,” Piepenburg said. “I was impressed with their overall teamwork and their individual strengths.”

As far as potentially seeing their product in the grocer’s freezer, it’s definitely a possibility, according to Piepenburg, noting that the students had to sign a release form of their product and presentation.

Although this competition is separate from the state FFA convention, the team will be recognized during the awards ceremony in April.

They will also go on to compete at the national level at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY.

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