An eager Cornell student walks up to the Dairy Bar counter in deep contemplation over what flavor to choose. The options are endless: Would the student go for the luscious Triple Caramel Bliss, the refreshing yet satisfying Mint Chocolate Chip, the Chocolate Gorges trickled with bits of cookies and fudge or … the “Martha Pollack”?
The Dairy Bar has a tradition of dedicating ice cream flavors to important figures, such as University presidents, college deans and special guests. Cornell’s current president Martha E. Pollack is just the most recent continuation of this unique custom: Her “Bits and Bytes” flavor gets its tongue-in-cheek name from her artificial intelligence research.
Its custard-like French vanilla is complemented with banana swirl and brownie pieces, sprinkled with white chocolate to top it all off. The flavor’s logo even evokes Pollack’s computer science background, as it spells out “Any Person, Any Study” in binary numbers.
This Dairy Bar honor stretches all the way back to 1995 when former President Hunter R. Rawlings III was inaugurated. His flavor, “Inauguration Swirl,” was a chocolate ice cream with a swirl of rich mocha.
In 2003, the Dairy Bar created “Ezra and Andrew’s World View” for President Jeffrey Lehman, an espresso-base ice cream featuring a fudge swirl and hints of cinnamon, vanilla, hazelnuts and praline pecans. Other than inaugurations, the Dairy Bar also commemorated President H.T. Rhodes’ retirement in 1995 with the special flavor “Rocky Rhodes.”
President David J. Skorton was honored with “Banana Berry Skorton,” a medley of chocolate with swirls of banana and raspberry in 2006 to mark his inaugural reception. The flavor was taste-tested by his wife Robin Davisson and her staff. The Dairy Bar compiled 100 gallons of chocolate ice cream, 11 gallons of raspberry sauce, 11 gallons of chocolate flakes and a few pounds of banana flavoring to make 3,500 cups of the eponymous flavor.
“Skorton’s was banana and I liked his. To me, Martha’s tasted like the fake banana, but Skorton’s tasted real,” Dairy Bar employee Karen Muckey said. “Actually, they told us Martha’s was made out of real bananas, but it didn’t taste real. But that’s my personal opinion.”
In 2015, the Dairy Bar presented “24 Garrett Swirl,” blending together chocolate, mocha, and smooth caramel, for President Elizabeth Garrett’s inauguration. Cornell students chose this name in an online contest, voting out “Garrett’s Chocolate Bar Association” and “Cornelle Chocolate Chunk.”
Presidents are not the only individuals who can get their own ice cream. Dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Kathryn J. Boor ’80 had the flavor Boorange Chip named after her. “When I first started, we had Boorange Chip. That was orange with chocolate chips and that was fantastic!” Ryan Newton, another Dairy Bar employee, told The Sun.
Upon finding out that the former Vice President is a big ice cream-lover, when Joe Biden came to Cornell to give a convocation address in 2017, the Dairy Bar made it their mission to deliver a flavor for him. Tim Barnard, Cornell’s dairy plant manager, discovered that Biden’s favorite flavor was vanilla chocolate chip, and after a naming contest, decided to produce “Big Red, White, and Biden.”
“They were special chocolate chips imported from Buffalo. They were extra small and milk chocolate instead of dark. It was super popular. We had requests for it for months after we had it,” Newton said.
Cornell’s FDSC 1101: Science and Technology of Foods class also came up with a “Freedom of Peach” flavor for the election of President Donald J. Trump in 2016. Judges from CALS and Cornell Dining picked this peach-base flavor that featured cinnamon and graham crackers throughout.
These flavors were only at the Dairy Bar for a limited time and are currently not available. Now, the Cornell community excitedly awaits the next dean or president that will be honored with an ice cream flavor of their own.