Join Us On A Virtual Road Trip To Find The Best College Creameries In America

Every college town has its secrets—the bars that overlook obviously fake IDs, the open mic nights that don't totally suck, the off-campus housing with the most lenient landlords. But the consistently best kept secret of some college towns, specifically the ones with agriculture schools, is right on campus: the college creamery. From Cornell to Washington State, and at many points in between, ag and food science schools have stores that sell the delicious results of their class projects. The hyper-local wares often are available at reasonable prices, making the campus creamery a favorite among students, alumni, and locals in the know.

Hop in the car and take a cross-country road trip with The Takeout as we sample the wares offered at some of the country's best college creameries. You won't need a student ID or an in-state driver's license to savor these havens of dairy-based goodness.

Stop #1: Cornell Dairy Bar, Ithaca, New York

Serving since: 1923

Location on campus: Stocking Hall

Most popular flavor: On the regular menu, it's a tie between Bavarian Raspberry Fudge and Big Red Bear Tracks, vanilla ice cream with a caramel swirl and brownie pieces. (The flavor is named for Touchdown, the Big Red Bear, the unofficial mascot of Cornell.) A seasonal favorite is Clocktower Pumpkin, named for a longstanding campus mystery surrounding the appearance of an impaled pumpkin on the top of McGraw Tower in 1997. While the identity of the pumpkin prankster still remains unknown, the ice cream flavor remains an autumnal favorite.


What else to buy: Regular and chocolate milk, Big Red Refuel protein milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, cheese curds, and maple syrup.

Why it's worth a stop: Food Science Program manager Janette Robbins is proud of the creative flavors dreamed up for the Dairy Bar, which is operated by Cornell Dining. "Each year our food science students have a flavor competition," she said. "This year's winner is We Cayenne Change the World, which is chocolate ice cream with hot pepper and cinnamon." It's the cow-to-cone experience that makes the difference here, she says. "The Cornell Dairy, managed by the Department of Food Science, sources milk from the 200 cows who live in a barn on campus and are cared for by the Veterinary College."


Stop #2: Penn State’s Berkey Creamery, State College, Pennsylvania

Serving since: 1865

Location on campus: Across from East Halls, the freshman dorms

Most popular flavor: Death by Chocolate: chocolate ice cream, chocolate flakes, fudge pieces, and a chocolate swirl. "If you have to go, what a way to go," joked creamery manager Jim Brown.


What else to buy: Products made at the creamery include milk, iced tea, lemonade, juices, protein recovery drinks, iced coffee, cheddar cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, and sour cream. It also sells items produced by other departments on campus, including honey, eggs, and Meat Lab products such as summer sausage, jerky, and beef sticks.

Why it's worth a stop: You might enjoy the school's curious connection to ice cream greatness: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's got their start in 1978 through one of the school's $5 correspondence courses. And if you want to people-watch, this is the best place on campus to do it. "Over the years, students have made the Creamery a necessary meeting place for studying and gatherings, and now you'll find not just students, but also alumni, faculty and staff," Brown said.


Stop #3: The Ohio State University’s Parker Dairy Store, Columbus, Ohio

Serving since: 2001

Location on campus: Lobby of the Parker Food Science building

Most popular flavor: The Buckeye Classic, named for Brutus Buckeye, the school mascot: peanut butter ice cream swirled with chocolate fudge and chocolate-covered peanut candies


What else to buy: Soups, sandwiches, and salads

Why it's worth a stop: OSU is a mandatory stop on your Creamery Mystery Tour because it's the birthplace of the ice cream drumstick. In 1930, two food science professors came up with the idea of coating the inside of the cone with chocolate so it wouldn't get soggy when it was frozen. Yes, drumsticks are for sale here and, yes, you really ought to get one.

Stop #4: University of Minnesota’s Dairy and Meat Salesroom, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Serving since: Late 1960s

Location on campus: In May, the salesroom will move back to its original home in Room 116 of the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science on the east campus

Most popular flavor: It's a tie between Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle and Gopher Gold (named for school mascot Goldy Gopher), which is French vanilla ice cream with a raspberry chocolate swirl. Sweet corn ice cream is popular during the Minnesota State Fair in August, held at the fairgrounds adjacent to the university.


What else to buy: Meat, cheese, and honey, all produced on campus

Why it's worth a stop: This store is the speakeasy of college creameries, since it's open to the public only from 2 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. If your timing is right, though, you'll be in luck, because the quality and prices of the products make them great values. "Our on-campus cow herd not only supplies milk for the ice cream, but for all our artisanal cheeses, which are delicious," said salesroom manager Jodi Nelson. She recommends the Minnesota Blue Cheese and Nuworld Cheese. "That's an all-white blue cheese, made from a white strain of mold, which was invented in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin."

Stop #5: Mississippi State University’s Cheese Store, Starkville, Mississippi

Serving since: 1938

Location on campus: In the glass annex at the front of the Herzer Food Science Building

Most popular flavor: Muscadine Ripple, produced with muscadine grapes grown and harvested at the school's South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station.


What else to buy: Muscadine juice, cheese, raw peanuts, jams, chow chow, pepper jelly, and more. Bully's Cathead Biscuit Mix is named for Bully, the school's bulldog mascot, and the biscuits are promised to bake up "as big as a cat's head." Meat for sale includes whole hogs, bacon butt, Andouille sausage, and Hail State ham ("Hail State" is the school's fight song).

Why it's worth a stop: Edam cheese is the star of the show here, and the school sells 30,000 three-pound signature red "cannonballs" of it each year. The cheese was introduced in 1938 by Professor F.H. Herzer, who ordered ten teakwood molds from Holland so the Dairy Science Department could use milk from its own dairy herds to make cheese. The rest is MSU history, and now the school's self-supporting dairy plant keeps everyone rolling in Edam all year long.


Stop #6: Washington State University’s Creamery and Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe, Pullman, Washington

Serving since: 1948

Location: Two blocks east of the football stadium

Most popular flavor: Huckleberry (the berry is native to the state)

What else to buy: Sausage from the Meat Lab, honey from the Entomology Department, and chocolates made by the Hospitality Department


Why it's worth a stop: The made-on-premises ice cream is popular, but so are 30-ounce tins of Cougar Gold cheese that can remain edible for 30 years. The cheese's name is an amalgam of the school's mascot and Dr. N.S. Golding, who pioneered research on how to create a product that would stay fresh without building up carbon dioxide that caused the cans to explode. "Cougar Gold is not actually made with cougar milk, although people do people ask," said WSU Creamery manager John Haugen. "It's a little sweeter and nuttier than a traditional cheddar, because we add our secret culture, WSU19. Some people say it tastes a little more like gouda."