Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The Dairy in Turner Hall has been operating since 1924 but continues to craft new recipes such as a flavor celebrating the War of 1812 bicentennial.
It takes a seasoned inventor to craft a dessert inspired by a war fought on the open sea with muskets and cannons.
A recent request that the Dairy create a flavor to celebrate the War of 1812 bicentennial was no small task, but it was a welcome challenge to the staff members who churn out more than 10,000 gallons of homemade ice cream each year from tried and true recipes. Creating the Star Spangled Explosion, a strawberry ice cream spiked with sherry, red, white and blue sprinkles and malted milk ball “cannonballs,” was yet another opportunity to feed school pride, staff members said.
Since 1924, the university creamery has brought joy to customers who are looking for a sweet treat. The Dairy, located in Turner Hall, sells ice cream cones, sundaes, sodas and milkshakes, as well as half-gallons to go.
“It’s tradition. It keeps things more homestyle and intimate,” said Jeffrey Russo, the university’s administrative chef.
Russo has been handling the university’s bakery needs for 15 years and has kept the traditional ice cream manufacturing method, even using the Dairy’s original ice cream machine. The recipe still contains the well-established allocation of 14 percent fat, which gives the ice cream its rich, creamy consistency.
To enjoy the homemade desserts, students don’t have to trek from their dorms and apartments to the Dairy’s location near Route 1. They can purchase the snack at campus shops, in the dining halls, and the Honors College hosts ice cream socials in Anne Arundel Hall.
“There are so many flavors to choose from, and it’s cool that they’re always coming out with new types,” said junior chemical engineering major Rosemary Garcia.
But with this month’s rash of record-breaking temperatures, some students said they have been drawn to Turner Hall, where the Dairy serves all 28 varieties.
“It’s a really interesting place for Terp pride — our ice cream tastes better because it’s ours,” said sophomore psychology major Lili Notovitz.
To inspire new combinations, Russo will often host student contests. Students come up with a name and the format of the flavor and the winner receives a 3-gallon jug of the creation they helped create.
Ice cream making has been a tradition for universities across the country for decades. Penn State University has produced homemade ice cream since the 1960s and opened a new creamery in 2006. Alumni of Clemson University opened a creamery in 2006 and the University of Wisconsin began selling its famous Babcock Dairy Plant ice cream in mass quantities and online.
This university’s operation relies on traditional methods, with which Russo said very few schools have kept up. The Dairy’s original ice cream machine allows workers to fold in extra brownies, cookie dough and cake batter.
“The old machine can do things automated plants cannot do,” he said. “Most universities have their own creameries and some actually have bigger productions, but there are limits to that kind of technology.”
While the creamery retires flavors periodically — Star Spangled Explosion will be available for just two years — some combinations leave years-long impressions on the Dairy’s customers. Alumni often call asking for flavors sold during their time at this university, staff members said.
“The customer loyalty is exceptional — people remember this stuff,” said Russo. “The ice cream really is a part of campus life, and it has been for 88 years.”