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food science students calibrate ice cream flavors in dairy plant in Stocking Hall

Students calibrate their flavors in the dairy pilot plant in Stocking Hall as they prepare ice cream for the Food Science 1101 final semester project.

Sweet Cornell: Official ice cream of the sesquicentennial

Pack 150 years of Cornell history into a pint of ice cream and what does it taste like? "Sweet Cornell."

Created by a team of Food Science 1101 students (one team, pictured above, works on flavor development) and chosen by a panel of five expert judges in a Dec. 2 contest, this ice cream, with a light corn base infused with salted caramel, is the official flavor of the Cornell sesquicentennial, slated to be served at celebrations throughout 2015, including Charter Day, Commencement Weekend and daily at the Dairy Bar.

"We focused on two main themes of the university," says Erynn Johnson '15, a member of the winning team. Cornell's dedication to public engagement and to diversity translated into the flavor of corn – a "unity" crop grown in 49 out of the 50 U.S. states and used all over the world – with a salted caramel swirl to appeal to "a diverse population with diverse tastes," says Johnson.

The flavor also pays homage to an influential Cornellian, Barbara McClintock '23, Ph.D. '27, whose work with genetics in the structure of corn won her the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1983.

The team thought a great deal about taste, too, choosing Sweet Cornell over seven other flavors (including "A.D. White Chocolate Cherry" and "Sesquicider") in the contest. One judge, Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, admits she was skeptical about trying a corn-flavored ice cream, but one taste changed her mind.

"It's like a really fabulous popcorn with a hint of caramel and salt," she says.

Throughout its history, Cornell has influenced the flavor of many foods and crops: apples and wine, for example.

Ice cream, however, is the best food to commemorate 150 years of university history and to look forward to a flavorful future, says Boor. It's celebratory, she points out; it appeals to all age groups, and it never goes out of season. And it's a reflection of Cornell's ties to dairy, the largest agricultural industry in the state.

New York state is enjoying a dramatic increase in dairy operations – it is third in milk production in the nation and first in cream cheese and yogurt. Cornell is at the heart of the industry, hosting the first two New York State Yogurt and Dairy Summits in 2013 and 2014, which drew about 100 dairy and government leaders to campus.

"This ice cream is a big deal," says dairy plant manager Jason Huck, who is responsible for building Sweet Cornell from a flavor concept to a large-scale order of the product. "It's important that we take the concepts and hold up the standards we expect from Cornell Dairy."

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