Kendall McCarty and Sophia Bastrikova bit into Caramel Munchies, a sweet and salty mix of caramel, crunched potato chips and chocolate.
The chewy dessert left the fifth-grade Centre Learning Community Charter School students wanting more.
“I’d ask my mom to buy it,” Bastrikova said.
“I liked how it’s all mixed in together, and it’s something that most people haven’t thought of,” McCarty added. “You can kind of taste everything.”
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About 30 seventh- and eighth-grade CLCCS students made their own snacks, entrees or desserts as part of a biannual project to give students a chance to make and market a food aimed at children.
Tory Abbott was the creator of Caramel Munchies.
“I love chocolate. I love caramel. I love potato chips, and who doesn’t?” Abbott said. “After tasting it myself I think the best part is seeing people’s responses when they taste it.”
The project — in which students developed, researched, marketed and sampled their products — began six weeks ago and culminated Wednesday when the students offered samples to about 100 guests, a few of them restaurant owners.
Guests chose their favorite product, and seventh-grader Jameson Reigh received the most votes for experimenting with family recipes to make Lumberjack Jerky with venison.
Michael Morabito, who owns Castle Tavern South in South Park, Pa., drove about three hours to taste test.
“I go to a few food shows a year with multimillion-dollar businesses, and I have to say what these kids have done is pretty good,” Morabito said. “They’re knowledgeable from doing their research. To see these kids at this level do what I see 40-year old execs try to do is really impressive. It really is.”
Morabito is also the nephew of Mark Toci, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at CLCCS who oversaw the project with colleague Raisa Gray.
“There’s so many facets to the project they worked on,” Gray said. “They’re working on developing their product, advertising with radio and TV commercials, making boxes for their product, thinking about competitors in the market. It’s a project that covers so many aspects of business to simulate real-life experience.”
Eighth-grade student Zach Oakman made an entree called The Edible Spoon, a sugar cookie shaped like a spoon and dipped in chocolate.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like this, and first I made sugar cookies,” Oakman said. “That was weak, so I made them spoon-shaped, and that was weak. The chocolate kind of put it over the top and made it great.”
Chris Fletcher and Lydia Crown, seventh-graders, made healthy snacks.
Fletcher made Gingy Bites, a mix of flour, sugar, nutmeg and molasses. The name for his product was inspired by his red hair.
“Some people call me ‘Gingy’ as a joke, and it’s just a funny joke I used to come up with the name,” said Fletcher, who was clothed in a green and black Irish-themed suit. “I got really into it.”
Crown made a drink called Super Fusion, an all-natural blend of apples, tomatoes, honey, carrots, strawberries and other fruits.
“Kids juices these days have a lot of unnatural preservatives and unhealthy ingredients, so I thought it’d be good to make a tasty and healthy alternative,” Crown said.
The most challenging part of the project, Crown said, was a 25-page market analysis she typed.
“Making it was simple and took three tries to get the taste right, but the market analysis was harder,” Crown said. “So that was tougher and took longer, but I really like that I got the taste right. Most people say it tastes like strawberries and bananas.”
The students will get to taste food made for them when they go to The Waffle Shop later this month.
“It’s close to the end of the year, and it’s a way to celebrate all of their hard work for this project,” Gray said.