Written by Professor Donald J. McMahon
1888-1918: Buttery Beginnings
The original creamery established in Old Main consisted of a series of rooms "containing the best apparatus for the manufacture of butter and cheese on scientific principles." Students could apply in practice the theories learned in the classroom. Besides dairy students, there were also classes for domestic arts students with an emphasis on cheeses that could be made in home.
1918-1920: The War of the Nations
During World War 1, a great effort in terms of faculty and college facilities was put towards support of the war. Many of the faculty were away, and buildings were converted for war-time use. What is now the Quad was a parade ground, and the livestock building on its north side was used to house soldiers. After the war, it became a convalescent hospital and then in 1919 it was restored to house the departments related to animal industry.
1920-1921: Building a Heritage for Aggie Ice Cream
In 1920, new machinery was purchased for the college creamery so that it could manufacture cheese, butter, and ice cream on a larger scale. In 1921, Gustav Wilster joined the Utah State faculty of dairy husbandry in the School of Agriculture and revitalized the course curricula for the Dairy Department. Utah’s love affair with high-quality ice cream began when Wilster had the idea of making his Aggie ice cream famous by teaching his skills to students and then sending them out into the world. The achievements of his students and their contributions to ice cream manufacturing far exceeded his visions of success. His influence led to the founding of such landmark Utah companies as Casper’s Ice Cream, Farr Better Ice Cream, and Snelgrove Ice Cream.
1922-1932: World-class Teaching, Small-town Feel
By 1922, students were taking classes in dairy technology, fluid milk processing, ice cream manufacture, dairy engineering, cheese manufacturing, butter making, inspecting dairy facilities, and dairy product judging. An estimated 2,500 people pitched their tents and made themselves at home for the annual Farmer's Encampment at Utah Agricultural College. Visitors could obtain milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream manufactured at the creamery. Ice cream flavors included pineapple, raspberry, chocolate, and vanilla. An all-you-can-drink supply of buttermilk was available free of charge from a large canteen at the entrance to Animal Industries Building.
1932-1939: The Legacy Continues
A.J. Morris—who had earned his bachelor’s degree in 1923 while studying under Prof. Wilster—joined the USU faculty in 1932. Prof. Morris continued the traditions of reaching out beyond the university by conducting annual ice cream short courses for people in the dairy industry. In 1939, Aggie ice cream flavors had expanded to include strawberry, maple nut, red and black raspberry, apricot, cherry, boysenberry, orange, peach, and cantaloupe.
1940-1965: Setting up Shop
Paul B. Larsen joined the Dairy Manufacturing faculty in 1946. The Aggie Ice Cream store became a landmark on the north side of The Quad and a part of university life for students and faculty.
1965-1975: Nutrition and Food Sciences
In 1968, Dairy Manufacturing merged with the Food and Nutrition program from the College of Family Life to form the new Nutrition and Food Sciences Department. With Prof. Tony Ernstrom leading the way, it was time to form a new facility to be constructed to meet the research and teaching needs for the food and nutrition programs.
1975-1979: Growing Up & Moving Out
In 1975, a new dairy processing facility and ice cream parlor was included when the Nutrition and Food Sciences building was constructed at its current location on the east edge of the university campus. A modern creamery was included in the new building to serve as a dairy processing laboratory. Dairy manufacturing became a part of the Food Science curriculum.
1979-2003: A New Face to an Old Tradition
Prof. Rodney Brown joined the faculty in 1979 and led the dairy foods program when Prof. Ernstrom retires in 1987. The Aggie Bull became our logo, and was prominently displayed on our ice cream cartons and on aprons worn by students working their way through college by scooping ice cream. When the store on the Quad ultimately closed, the ice cream parlor in the food science building became the prime location for satisfying cravings for Aggie Ice Cream.
2003-2020: Where Past & Future Meet
Recognized as a premier feature of Utah State University, Aggie Ice Cream received a place in the university's new marketing program. The hundred-year tradition of Aggie Ice Cream made on the Utah State campus by staff and students of the Food Science program continues today. Our newly renovated ice cream parlor is still a place where young and old can meet to enjoy a cold, sweet taste of history.