Ice Cream Short Course offers a sweet education

Students separate cream in the dairy barns at the Pennsylvania State College in 1894. Credit: Penn State University Archives / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- With the Penn State Berkey Creamery celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, we take a look at the earliest beginnings of the University's world-famous Ice Cream Short Course.

Believed to be the oldest continuing education course in the United States, the Ice Cream Short Course traces its roots to 1892, when the then-School of Agriculture at the Pennsylvania State College began to offer a class in dairy manufacturing during the winter, when farmers had less field work and could be spared away from their farms. Offering free tuition, the students paid only $5 in incidental expenses and lab fees.

By 1925, ice cream had become so popular that the college created a separate course devoted exclusively to the subject. Dairy manufacturers, wholesalers and small shop owners came from all over the world to learn the professional and technical secrets of making quality ice cream.

Ben and Jerry's is arguably the most famous to participate but other well-known ice cream manufacturers have included Baskin-Robbins, Blue Bell Creamery, Borden, Colombo, Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, Friendly, Good Humor/Breyers, Haagen-Dazs, Hershey, International Dairy Queen, Mars, Nestle, Sealtest, Schrafft, Wells and many others.

Today, the 7-day course in "cow-to-cone" ice cream science is offered annually in January, with about 130 students from all over the world attending more than 20 workshops on specialized areas of ice cream technology — including flavoring, refrigeration, freezing and hardening techniques, and the manufacture of frozen yogurt and novelty frozen desserts. Since the beginning the course has attracted more than 4,500 participants from every state in the nation and every continent except Antarctica.

Penn State's 124th Ice Cream Short Course will be held Jan. 10 through Jan. 16, 2016, at University Park.


Last Updated September 04, 2020