When Rachel Granillo competed last week in the finals of Jif’s “Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest,” the 10-year-old Clovis girl had no expectations.
By Friday morning, after beating four other finalists at The Culinary Loft in New York City, Rachel had the top prize: $25,000 in scholarship money.
“When they said her name, it was utter, pure shock; disbelief; and joy,” said Diana Granillo, her mother and assistant during the contest. “She started to cry on the spot. … It was like they had announced her name to be Miss America.”
She couldn’t have done it without local fans. Online votes determined the top five finalists; Rachel discovered she made the list in late February with “PB & Fruity Says ‘Let Us Rap’ ” — a lettuce wrap with peanut butter, chicken, apples, grapes, mayonnaise and honey.
“Thank you for all the help in voting and getting me here,” she said.
Rachel practiced her sandwich many times before the final contest. When it came time to demonstrate it in front of the judges, “I felt comfortable,” she said.
Diana Granillo said her own role was minimal. “I helped cut the sandwich,” she said. “I held the bowl when she scooped the mixture into the lettuce.”
News of the award spread quickly. Diana Granillo’s co-workers sent out e-mails, prompting a short blog report at fresnobeehive.com. And Rachel herself called her teacher at Red Bank Elementary School in Clovis.
“She put me on speaker and I got to tell the whole class,” Rachel said. “They started screaming so loud that my mom could hear them screaming on the phone.”
After tasting the sandwiches of the five finalists, the judges deemed Rachel’s the most creative. (See jif.com for Rachel’s recipe, as well as the recipes of the other finalists.)
For Rachel, winning wasn’t the point. Before coming to New York, she mostly looked forward to “meeting the other four kids,” her mother said.
Ask Rachel about the trip’s highlights, and she’s just as likely to talk about playing Nintendo Wii with the other finalists, seeing the Statue of Liberty from a boat and going to the top of the Empire State Building.
“I love it,” Rachel said about New York. “I think it’s just so big and pretty.”