Students Create Bite-Sized Banana Splits

no BS.jpgBanana splits. Sure, we’ve seen them in photos, TV shows, and comic books (where they qualify as a food group), but we’ve never seen anyone eat one in person. Maybe we’re hanging around with the wrong people or maybe, just maybe, banana splits require too much effort to prepare, what with the procuring and peeling of the banana(s), the scooping of the ice cream just so, the artful drizzling of the chocolate syrup, and don’t even get us started on the whipped cream. Enter “Banana Splitters,” frozen bite-sized banana slices filled with chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry non-fat frozen yogurt and covered in dark chocolate.

(John Koontz).jpgThis no fuss, no muss taste treat is the creation of the 13-member Virginia Tech Food Science and Technology Product Development Team, who entered it in the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) product development competition. Their frozen confection was one of six finalists and earned the team a grant to attend last month’s IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo in New Orleans. One judging panel rated it a 7.6 on a sensory scale of 9. “That is between ‘likes moderately’ and ‘likes very much’,” said Annie Aigster, a Viriginia Tech doctoral candidate in human nutrition, foods, and exercise. The team is now working on licensing and patenting Banana Splitters. And to think they almost went with another idea. “We briefly considered slices of cream cheese packaged in an edible film,” said John Koontz, a recent Ph.D. graduate in food science and technology who snapped the photo at left (in which the background split is missing both whipped cream and cherries). “But people spread different thicknesses of cream cheese on their bagels.”