U of T food engineers help set world record

May 12, 2011 By Liam Mitchell

Graduate students from the University of Toronto's Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry’s food engineering laboratory helped to set the Guinness Book of World Record May 10 for largest ice cream cake ever made.

The cake, assembled at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto, was the focus of an event sponsored by Dairy Queen to mark the 30th anniversary of their cakes.

The U of T team was contacted early in the process by organizers who sought their expertise on how to successfully accomplish this ambitious task.

“U of T was instrumental in putting together the entire plan for this,” explained Denise Hutton, vice- president of marketing at DQ Canada and the mastermind of this attempt.

The team set out to beat the current record, which was set in 2006 when an eight metric ton ice cream cake was constructed in Beijing. The Toronto plan called for an ice cream cake that would weigh over nine and a half metric tons and would include over nine tons of ice cream, 90 kilograms of sponge cakes and more than 130 kilograms of icing and Oreo crumble.

However, those building the cake had to ensure it didn’t collapse or melt too fast. Enter the U of T team, which consisted of six graduate students supervised by Professor Levente Diosady. They put their skills to work finding solutions.

“We calculated the dimensions to ensure that the cake would weigh enough. We described how the cake should be prepared and assembled. We also made recommendations on how to weigh the cake and provided 3D models to test the design,” explained Elisa McGee, a MASc candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry.

“All of the U of T food engineering students worked tirelessly to design the platform and design how all of these 20 pallets were going to come together,” said Hutton.

The engineering students were on hand as the record fell.

“Today our job was just supervising, because all of our work was completed in advance,” said McGee.

That meant that McGee and her fellow team members could enjoy the sunny weather and wait to taste the results of their effort.

Once fully assembled, the cake weighed over 10.1 metric tons, eclipsing the earlier record holder by over two metric tons. Once a representative of the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed the record had been broken, the cake was cut up and given away to hungry onlookers.

“As an engineer, I feel like we accomplished a lot today,” said McGee.

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