Cornell University: Naturally, ‘Berry Great Outdoors!’ scoops ice cream victory

Close your eyes, pine for summer camp in the woods – and bring a spoon.

“The Berry Great Outdoors!” – a mix of graham cracker swirl, fudge, toasted marshmallow flavor and berries, developed by a Cornell ice cream team from an introductory food science class, has won top honors in the class’ annual competition.

“This team captured the theme,” said Christopher R. Loss, the Louis Pasteur Lecturer in Food Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who taught the class. “They demonstrated genuine enthusiasm, worked well as a team and created a pleasing prototype that hit the marks on creaminess, sweetness, inclusion (the tiny bits) and variegate (swirls) quality.”

Loss continued: “By combining nostalgic flavors, such as s’mores that we associate with outdoor experiences – marshmallow, fudge and graham cracker flavors – and adding a swirl of wild berries, it becomes a nod to New York’s berry growers,” he said. “Wild berry picking is also common in New York state during the summers, and a reminder of how people explore, commune and learn about nature, and the diversity of flavors nature presents.”

The food science introductory course has been churning out new and unusual flavors in its ice cream contest for more than 25 years. Behind the sweet spoons of frozen treats is hard work: Students explored the role of chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition, engineering and sensory evaluation to make the world a safer and tastier place.

This year’s theme was Edmund O. Wilson’s “Biophilia,” a collection of essays about how humans connect with the natural world.

Cornell’s Dairy Bar is expected to replicate this flavor late in the spring semester.

During the class presentations, the student team that created the Berry Great Outdoors! said that nostalgic summer evenings and the unexpected tang of homemade berry compote inspired their offering.

The Berry Great Outdoors! was created by Wendy Bollum ’25, Ella Hsu ’25, Jazmin Rodriguez ’25, Hanna Schultz ‘24, Allison Chhay ’24, Chester Lukanic ‘25, Maite Sadeh ’25, Jessie Sutton ‘25, Abby Gase ’25, Malcolm McNulty ’25, Liam Sands ‘25 and Shieana Xie ’24.

Loss said that the runner-up flavor – called “Under the Sea” – featured excellent texture contrast (white-chocolate covered Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, for example) and a strong theme connection, intended to increase environmental awareness with a dynamically sweet and salty flavor profile.

Another flavor the judges enjoyed was “Far Above Chai-uga Waters,” a tea-flavored ice cream that had simplicity, elegance and subtlety reminiscent of a fine dining restaurant, Loss said.

After the Dec. 2 presentations, teaching assistants scooped out all 11 flavors for the class to taste. The students ate them outside.

“A lot of effort goes into creating the ice cream,” said Jordan Fargo ’22, of the Under the Sea team. “I didn’t realize how much you need to account for while making it. Taste and cost are intertwined and very important.”

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