COLUMBIA - MU's food science students will hold a taste test Tuesday for the public to test out their newly developed barbecue sauces. The favorite sauce from the taste test has the potential to be brought to market by Mizzou Licensing and Trademarks.

"The idea of having an MU branded product created by our students in our food science program is probably a new thing," associate professor Andrew Clarke said.

The 11 students in Clarke's food sciences capstone have spent the past semester developing four different barbecue sauces. For teacher's assistant Joe Baratta, this process has been inspiring.

"You saw them see throughout the process that they knew they could do it, and that was so exciting to witness," Baratta said.

The taste test will consist of two different parts. One will be open to the general public and the other will be a campus celebrity judging.

"We've got a dean, a coach, and some leaders in student government on the celebrity panel," Baratta said.

If the winning sauce gets put to market, the Food Science program is expecting to receive some of the earnings.

"We've been led to believe that there's a chance that some of the profits from this product would come back to the Food Sciences program," Clarke said.

While all were supposed to be inspired by Kansas City barbecue, which Clarke has been a judge of for many years, each sauce has a distinct flavor profile. One uses roasted garlic, another uses honey, one was inspired by umami and one sauce is a spicier blend inspired by current taste trends.

"Through preliminary testing, we've noticed there's been one sauce that seems to come out on top," Baratta said. "But that pilot test only had 25 people tasting, and we're expecting 170 to come out to the taste test on Tuesday. Anything could happen."

Clarke's capstone has always dealt with product development, but this is the first time these products might actually be made into commercial products. Clarke says developing these products was a long process.

"It starts with market analysis. We sent them out to obtain samples of commercially available barbecue sauces with a particular theme in mind," Clarke said. "They did several taste tests themselves. Then they deconstruct the recipe and rebuild it into something new, a finished product."

Students first started developing the sauces in October, but most have been through significant changes since then. Some students have even made last minute changes just days before the taste test.

"The least developed sauce probably went through 10 iterations, but I know of a group that developed probably twice that until they were happy with their product," Baratta said.

Baratta said that while he's proud of his students, he can't necessarily say he's surprised by their hard work and success.

"I truly expected it all along. And it was exciting to see them all realize that as well," Baratta said.

They hope to do a soft launch of the winning product within the next semester. They think the final project will hit the market about a year from now.

The event begins Tuesday in the MU Student Center at 3:30 p.m. The first 100 attendees will be able to sample and rate the sauces for free. Chicken nuggets will be provided to test the sauces with.

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