Local family wins national invention contest

The White family got to meet contest spokesperson Cobie Smulders, back right, in Los Angeles last September when they were named as finalists in the “Dreamvention” contest. They were recently named as winners. Front, from left, Audrey and Mia White. Back, Joe White, Jill White, and Smulders. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Frito-Lay)



A Southington family beat out thousands of inventors to claim the top prize in the nationwide Frito-Lay variety packs’ “Dreamvention” contest. Jill and Joe White, along with their daughters, Audrey, 8, and Mia, 6, earned the most votes during the online competition with their invention, the “Kid Safe Switch.”

The family secured t heir place in the top five finalists, and now, have taken home the $250,000 grand prize.

“I felt shock,” said Jill when asked how she felt after winning. “I was preparing myself to lose, so it was stunning to hear our name called. And then, I was crying and extremely happy.”


Joe said that he felt relieved after having put so much work into the project during the months leading up to the announcement.

“Since we had put so much work into it, we felt like we did have something to lose,” he said.

As a family who loves to cook together, the White family submitted the “Kid Safe Switch” invention idea as a way to solve one fear that many parents face: keeping kids safe in the kitchen. Audrey and Mia love to lead the charge in the kitchen, but mom and dad wanted to let these mini chefs cook and chop away without worrying about them getting too close to the stove.

Their invention features a sensor that, when attached to the stove or oven, can sense when someone is too close and sound an alert.

When asked how the invention could help other families, Mia, the youngest daughter, replied it will keep people from getting burned. Mia’s older sister Audrey said, “it can help kids who like to reach up onto the oven not get burnt.”

“Not only does this device aim to keep kids safe but our entire journey through this contest has been life changing,” said Jill. “It shows that if you just take the time to try, even if it seems impossible, you could achieve great things. Dreams can be attainable.”

The White family’s invention, along with the other four finalist families’ inventions, were brought to life with the help of MAKO Designs + Invent, a full-service consumer product development firm, through official prototypes of their inventions.

“We were amazed by the level of ingenuity from the five finalist families as they all submitted invention ideas that truly resonated with other families across the country,” senior director of marketing of Frito-Lay North America Rhasheda Boyd said in a press release. “The ‘Dreamvention’ contest shows that any family can have the next great invention idea to solve an everyday family problem, and we are so proud that we were able to give them this platform to ‘dreamvent’ together again.”

This marked the second year Frito-Lay Variety Packs ran the Dreamvention contest. Frito-Lay North America brands are a convenient foods division of PepsiCo, Inc., headquartered in Purchase, NY.