"Blue-Chip Stocks Shaping Up to Be the Next Big Thing."

So read the headline of an Associated Press story recently, which quoted various Wall Street pros talking about the run blue-chip stocks are poised to have.

But aren't "blue chips" and "next big things" antithetical?

Shades of blue
The blue-chip stock is a fabled investment -- the kind of low-risk, high-reward dream stock that can anchor a profitable portfolio for decades.

But today's blue chips look a bit different from yesterday's.

Ask a previous generation about blue chips, and you might hear about Eastman Kodak (NYSE:EK), Ford (NYSE:F), and AT&T (NYSE:T) -- three companies that have fallen on hard times of late and are not nearly as dominant as they once were. Then there are General Electric (NYSE:GE) and Altria (NYSE:MO) -- two companies that earned investors goose-bump-raising 19% annualized returns from 1970 to 2000. Yet even they don't quite seem like the sure things they used to be.

So, then, what do today's blue chips look like, and which ones are "shaping up" to be the "next big thing"?

Even widows and orphans need to rebalance
When we talk about blue chips today, the names of new-economy giants -- like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) -- are tossed out for consideration. But can such new, dividend-less companies really be considered stalwarts?

It's a crucial question for investors to consider.

Why we do what we do
See, every balanced portfolio needs a blue-chip anchor. But the face of blue chips is changing. So what companies should we anchor our portfolios to for the next 30 years?

We've set out to answer that question today -- and we need your help.

Using our brand-new Motley Fool CAPS community intelligence database, we've identified 21 promising potential blue-chip investments. Below, you'll find an analyst making the case for each of them. We ask you, the individual investor, to read about them and then make your thoughts known in CAPS. If you agree with the analysis, rate the stock as an "outperform" in CAPS. If you disagree, go in and rate the stock "underperform." You can even add your own analysis if you feel so inclined. The blue-chip stock with the most new, net outperform ratings (outperform ratings minus underperform ratings) will win the contest.

By early next week, our powerful community of investors will have declared the best blue chip for 2007. Get started by reading the analyses below and then clicking here to join CAPS today.

Tim Hanson owns shares of 3M but does not own shares of any other company mentioned in the article. Amazon.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation.