- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Students, faculty and visitors have been lining up at the Dairy at the University of Maryland for more than 80 years. That is an uncountable number of scoops of chocolate, vanilla, Final Exam Cram and Fear the Turtle ice cream.

Homemade ice cream is as much a part of College Park tradition as basketball. Although some of the flavors have changed, much is still the same as it was when ice-cream-making was part of the dairy sciences curriculum in the mid-1920s, says Jeff Russo, the university’s administrative chef.

The recipe is still the same - at 14 percent butterfat, it tastes like ice cream should. The retail location is in the same spot on Route 1, next to the Visitor Center. The ice cream is now made on South Campus, but the food-service staff still has the original machine. The biggest change has been that the cows that provide the cream reside on a Montgomery County farm rather than on campus.

“Ice cream is a big deal on campus,” Mr. Russo says. “It is sort of an honor to have had it here for nearly 100 years.”

There is never an off-season for ice cream at Maryland, Mr. Russo says. On a recent hot summer morning, visitors to the Dairy were licking cones as soon at the place opened at 10 a.m. When campus is crowded, ice cream sells - even during a February snowstorm or final exams in December, Mr. Russo says.

The university makes about 10,000 gallons of ice cream annually, Mr. Russo says. About 30 flavors go in and out of rotation. When Mr. Russo took over operations four years ago, he added new flavors such as Fear the Turtle (white chocolate swirled with caramel and pecans), Final Exam Cram (cappuccino ice cream with crushed chocolate cookies), and Fridge Fever (vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge, brownie bits, chocolate-covered cashews and Myers rum).

Mr. Russo and his staff will hand-mix special orders, which alumni often request. The university will ship a special order anywhere, but at $35 for a 3-gallon tub and $50 for shipping, it may not be the most cost-effective method for those eager to reminisce about their days on campus.

Maryland’s ice cream tradition has been part of the school since 1924. By 1926, it was a hit on campus - even among those who were not future farmers. The ice cream program prospered under the direction of Wendell Arbuckle, professor of dairy sciences at Maryland from 1949 to 1972.

Mr. Arbuckle, who earned the nickname “Mr. Ice Cream,” became known for studying the effects of the crystalline structure of ice cream and his experiments with unusual flavors such as grapefruit, carrot and sweet potato. The grass-flavored ice cream he developed - a flop - has gone down in Maryland lore.

Grass flavor was long gone before Salam Maru arrived on campus. The rising senior from Germantown says it is hard, but she sets ice cream limits for herself. She has to; she works at the reception desk at the Visitor Center, mere steps from the Dairy.

“I try to keep it to one scoop a month,” she says. “It is so hard, though. There are always people coming in who graduated like 50 years ago and are here for the ice cream. Sometimes, they will come by on the weekend, and I have to tell them the Diary is closed. I feel bad for them.”

• The Dairy is located just south of the University of Maryland’s main entrance to campus (Founder’s Gate) on U.S. Route 1 (Baltimore Avenue). It is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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