UNIVERSITY PARK – When Barack Obama made a campaign visit to Penn State during the primaries last March — which included a stop at the Dairy Research Center, where he bottle-fed a calf — it was way too premature to order ice cream from the University’s legendary creamery for his inauguration.
But it turns out he didn’t need to. Taking note of Obama’s interest in dairy, and following up on a tip from inside the Beltway, the University’s College of Agricultural Sciences has taken care of everything, coming up with three flavors to honor the president-elect and his new administration: “BaRocky Road,” “Obama White House” and “BidenBerry.” They will be served at the 2009 Pennsylvania Inaugural Gala the evening of Jan. 20.
Known around the world for its fabulous ice cream, Penn State’s Berkey Creamery — the largest on-campus creamery in the country — has a tradition of concocting special flavors to commemorate significant events and famous people, such as football coach Joe Paterno (Peachy Paterno). In 2000, when the National Governors Association held its summer meeting at Penn State, the creamery made “Ridge’s Road” ice cream for then-Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, and ended up selling it in the creamery salesroom for a few years.
Creamery manager Tom Palchak noted that he shipped 40 tubs, or 120 gallons, of the special flavors for the inaugural ball to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C.
” ‘BaRocky Road’ is a rocky road or tin roof sundae flavor, vanilla ice cream with chunky add-ins such as peanuts, brownies, candy and chocolate swirl,” he said. ” ‘Obama White House’ is vanilla ice cream with maraschino cherries, and ‘BidenBerry’ is vanilla ice cream with red raspberry variegate through it.”
The University milks a herd of 300 Holsteins, and all of their milk (along with lots more purchased from two nearby private dairy farms) supplies the creamery, which makes a complete line of beverages, ice cream, yogurt, cheeses and other dairy products. “We take in approximately 4.5 million pounds of milk annually and manufacture 225,000 gallons of ice cream,” Palchak said.
The creamery at Penn State has been operating continuously on the University Park campus since 1865, pointed out Robert Steele, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “As part of our world-renowned Department of Food Science, the creamery has a long tradition of research and education related to the manufacture of dairy products,” he said. “This isn’t the first time the creamery has been involved in presidential affairs, twice hosting President Bill Clinton during visits to campus. We’re delighted that we could add to the creamery’s lore by supplying ice cream for such an historic occasion.”