Screamin’ for Sesquicentennial Sundae

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State is famous for good reasons – the top-notch education it provides, its acclaimed research programs and, of course, Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lion football team.

Scream for ice cream. But alumni and people familiar with the university will quickly cite another claim to fame – University Creamery ice cream.

Many contend it is the best they have tasted, and for hundreds of thousands who come to the Centre County campus each year, no visit is complete without a trip to the creamery.

It’s fresh. The main reason creamery ice cream is so good relates to freshness.

“Only an average of four days elapses between the cow and a newly dipped cone,” said Tom Palchak, creamery manager.

So it seems only right that a new ice cream flavor was created to mark the university’s sesquicentennial.

New flavor. During a ceremony at Schwab Auditorium July 8 to kick off the year-long celebration, Penn State President Graham Spanier revealed the new flavor, appropriately named “Sesquicentennial Sundae.”

It features chunks of fudge brownies and chocolate-covered peanuts in vanilla ice cream with a fudge swirl.

Big response. Spanier’s announcement ends a new-flavor contest that attracted an amazing amount of attention. Around 2,500 suggestions for a new flavor name had been received from most of the 50 states, Canada, the United Kingdom and even Hong Kong.

Three people suggested the winning flavor name: Jessica Ross of Lancaster, a junior at the University Park campus; Roger Beltz of Ohio, a 1991 alumnus from the College of Health and Human Development; and Marc Durigon, of Greensburg, Pa., who will start eighth grade this fall.

The winner. But only Durigon – who submitted the flavor entry because his seventh-grade teacher, Cathy Henderson, a Penn State alumna, used the ice cream contest as a persuasive writing assignment for her entire class – came up with both the name and winning recipe.

Penn State will be 150 years old on Feb. 22, 2005 – 150 years after Gov. James Pollock signed the charter that established the college of scientific agriculture that grew to be one of the world’s most distinguished centers of higher education.

Tradition. Getting ice cream at the creamery has been a tradition for most of that time. The first creamery was established in 1865 in the “Old West Barns Complex” behind the present location of Old Main.

In 1889, the creamery became a stand-alone facility in a refurbished chicken coop containing a cold-storage room, cream-ripening room, workroom and office space.

In 1904, the creamery moved to Patterson Building, and in 1932 it moved to its current location in Borland Laboratory.

New facility. Soon the facility will move to the new, state-of-the-art Food Science Building now under construction at the corner of Curtin and Bigler roads, and it will be renamed the Berkey Creamery.

The creamery produces a total of 225,000 gallons of ice cream annually, and its staff hand-dips about 750,000 cones each year.

It has about 110 flavors in its rotating repertoire, although only about 20 flavors are in production at any given time. Now there is one more.

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