Mississippi State University students line up for Bulldog ice cream served by members of the MSU Alumni Association at a prior celebration of the university’s anniversary. Photo by: Courtesy photo
July 23, 2014 10:15:04 AM
You may have seen the same clip on national news that I did: July is National Ice Cream Month, and has been since 1984. As if we needed a special month, right?
Ice cream works any time of the year, but summer is its season to shine. The spike in temperatures also means an increase in production of Mississippi State University's ice cream. As more and more Golden Triangle residents -- and especially Bulldog fans -- realize they can get fresh ice cream at the
MAFES Sales Store on the Starkville campus, sales have steadily risen in recent years.
"In 2012, we sold 9,000 gallons of ice cream," said David Hall, MSU's dairy process production manager. "That year we sold 67,000 cups compared to 44,500 cups in 2005."
MSU also sold 2,300 half-gallon containers and 1,200 three-gallon containers the same year.
Hall is still compiling numbers for 2013 but said he expects an increase.
The dairy manufacturing plant, which has made ice cream since the 1940s, has had several flavors over the years. Currently, MSU makes butter pecan, chocolate, chocolate almond, chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, coffee, cookies and cream, muscadine ripple, peach, praline pecan, strawberry and vanilla flavors. Ice cream is available in 8-ounce cups and half-gallon and three-gallon containers, depending on the flavor.
The 8-ounce cups were just-right for a large birthday party thrown by Lynn Cole of Columbus to celebrate her dad's birthday this past fall.
"My father is a huge Bulldog fan, so the theme seemed a given," said Cole, who flanked an over-sized maroon and white birthday cake for approximately 125 guests with two metal, oval-shaped drink tubs lined in white linen cloths and filled with frozen cups of vanilla ice cream. The cups were put out just before serving began.
"It went over great -- and so much easier than trying to dole out individual servings from big containers," said the hostess. "Much, much less mess, too."
No. 1 seller
Production for the university's most popular ice cream starts in Poplarville.
"Our best seller is the muscadine ripple ice cream, followed by chocolate, cookies and cream, and vanilla," Hall said. "The muscadine grapes for the muscadine ripple are grown at MSU's South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville. The grapes are transported to North Farm, where they are crushed and turned into muscadine juice."
The plant takes the juice and adds it to the ice cream mix.
The plant has recently developed a new flavor, Peach Melba, to commemorate MSU Extension Service's centennial celebration.
Reuben Moore, associate director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said the ice cream showcases the university's attention to quality in every stage of production.
"The process begins with our award-winning dairy herd, which the American Jersey Cattle Association consistently ranks among the top 10 herds nationally," Moore said. "The culmination of quality throughout the entire process is evident in a delicious cup of ice cream and other terrific dairy products."
The raw milk is combined with cream, sugar and other ingredients in a large blender to make a white or chocolate base. The 50-gallon base produces 100 gallons of ice cream. The mixture is then pasteurized and homogenized.
The mixture travels to flavoring tanks, where the specific flavor is added. If the flavor has fruit, nuts or cookies, those ingredients are added with an ingredient feeder. The muscadine ripple and the praline pecan go through the extra step of rippling. A machine ripples muscadine juice into the muscadine ripple and caramel into the praline pecan. After that, the ice cream is frozen, packaged and distributed to the MAFES Sales Store and other campus facilities.
MSU may be famous for its Edam cheese with its slogan, "All dawgs need cheese," but on a hot July day, dawgs could use a little ice cream, too.
Visit the store
The MAFES (Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station) Sales Store at 925 Stone Blvd. on campus, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information about products, visit msucheese.com, or call 662-325-9687.
(Editor's note: The Dispatch thanks Vanessa Beeson of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station for information contained in this article.)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.