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Blue and White Chips wins Ag Springboard student business pitch contest

Blue and white potatoes sliced (Courtesy: Penn State University)

Blue and White Chips, a team of two Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences student entrepreneurs who make and market naturally colorful blue-and-white potato chips to Penn State fans, won $7,500 and first place at the Ag Springboard student business pitch contest.

Six finalist teams pitched before a panel of judges throughout Thursday in the fifth annual Ag Springboard contest to inspire new student enterprises in the agricultural sciences. The competition is a signature event of the College of Agricultural Sciences' Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, which helps researchers and students grow their ideas into new ventures that can create jobs and make money.

The win reaffirms all the hard work that's gone into creating the Blue and White potato chip business, said Deanna Spaniel, a junior agribusiness management major, who started the company with partner Ben Nason, a senior horticulture major.

Deanna Spaniel (left-center) and Ben Nason (right-center), first-place winners of Ag Springboard for Blue and White Chips, with Earl Harbaugh (far left), whose donation created the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Richard Roush (far right), dean of the college.(Courtesy: Penn State University)

Spaniel described many days of getting on the road at 5 a.m. for the three-hour drive to a partner potato chip facility in York to supervise production of a batch of chips for a few hours, then driving back to Penn State to attend classes in the afternoon.

Nason said he didn't quite believe the announcement at first, after previous disappointments including competing but not placing in the Ag Springboard competition in 2015.

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Team Blue & White Chips ~ Ag Springboard 2016 Finalist

The pair took on the project after learning about potato varieties that produce spuds in a range of colors -- except green -- from Bill Lamont, professor of vegetable crops. They experimented with processing until they were able to create a specialty mix of blue chips made from Purple Majesty potatoes with white chips, marketed to Penn State fans.

They plan to produce and market various color combinations to other fans as a way to enjoy their school colors.