Still Cool, 100 Years Later

Look Back on the Maryland Dairy’s Funky Flavors and Coach-Inspired Creations

First, let’s mooove beyond the misconception that the University of Maryland’s Dairy ice cream is made from the milk of campus cows. (Only two remain on the farm, anyway.)

That was true a century ago, when cattle grazed in the fields and barns along Baltimore Avenue, just steps from where their milk was churned into frozen delights. And it remained so until the 1960s, when the expensive and labor-intensive process was bid out and the university switched to a commercial mix.

students order ice cream at counter

Students order Dairy favorites like sundaes, milkshakes and ice cream at Turner Hall (then known as Shriver Laboratory) in 1964.

But Dairy ice cream is still the fodder for many Terps’ fondest memories, whether they polished off a 10-cent scoop while sitting on the brick wall outside Turner Hall or still proudly display the Adele’s sundae bowl—“the Trough”—from treating their parents with extra Dining Points.

Established as an agricultural college, the university initially focused on crops and planting methods, rather than livestock. The dairy program began in the late 1890s, and in 1924, the Dairy building along Baltimore Avenue opened to serve as a lab and salesroom for butter, cheese and, of course, ice cream.

Flavors remained pretty vanilla until College of Agriculture Professor Wendell S. Arbuckle, known as “Mr. Ice Cream” for his extensive research on the subject, took the reins in 1949. “That man believed you could make an ice cream out of any flavor,” says Gary LaPanne, who led Dairy operations in the 1980s and 1990s. “We’re talking vegetables—asparagus and green beans—and even grass.”

Wendell Arbuckle measures ice cream ingredients

Professor Wendell Arbuckle, known as “Mr. Ice Cream,” measures ingredients for ice cream in an undated photo

Arbuckle consulted internationally, and for decades, AGNR faculty taught an annual two-week course on how to make ice cream. (It drew not only professionals but also “a lot of lawyers who were tired of their jobs and wanted to open their own ice cream shops,” LaPanne says.) Grocery chains jumping on the low-fat craze in the 1990s turned to UMD’s facility to create small test batches.

In 2004, Dining Services took over production, and in 2014, the Maryland Dairy moved to the Stamp Student Union, where increased foot traffic quadrupled ice cream sales.

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Dairy team recreated fan favorites for each month of the school year. Dining Services Executive Pastry Chef Jeff Russo and Stamp retail operations Assistant Director Dan Robertson dish out a few secrets about UMD’s favorite dessert, what it takes to develop specialty flavors and how to get Dairy ice cream when you’re not in College Park.

ice cream scoops with stats: 24 flavors, 10,000+ gallons created each year, 14% butterfat (higher than the 10% standard)

1. Cookies and cream
2. Sapienza (named for the former executive assistant to three presidents, Sapienza Barone ’77)
3. (Tie) Cookie dough and mint chip

“Nothing comes out of a can,” says Russo. “If I’m doing caramelized pecans, I roast them, I sugar them, I salt them. Brownie chunks? Those don’t come out of a box.” Three to four staff members surround the ice cream machine to add nuts and candy at just the right times to keep them from getting pulverized.

Terps don’t have to head to the Stamp to get their favorite variety. On campus, units can order mobile ice cream carts to get hand-dipped cups or pre-scooped options (popularized during the pandemic). Nostalgic alums can order half-gallons to be shipped anywhere in the United States by emailing

National History Day Competition (June):
Between World War I and Olympic trivia, nearly 3,000 middle schoolers and families from all 50 states and around the world fuel up on frozen delights. “The line is there all day, every day that week!” says Robertson.

Maryland Day (April): The team creates a unique flavor each year for UMD’s open house.

Early Fall Semester: A bevy of welcome events, new Terps’ discovery of Dairy ice cream and everyone else’s renewed access to it require Russo’s crew to make fresh batches five days a week.

Starting with former football coach Ralph Friedgen in the early 2000s, the Dairy has created specialty flavors for some of the Terps’ winningest leaders (including university presidents). Men’s basketball coach Kevin Willard’s is based on his fandom for peanut butter and jelly, while women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese appropriately added Reese’s Cups and Pieces. Nibbling the first iteration of her flavor, she quickly caught on: “So if I keep changing something, I’ll get another tasting every week?”

The Dairy team regularly makes custom ice cream for UMD units and clubs—Campus Squirrel Crunch, anyone?—as well as special celebrations:

Chesapeake Wild Berry Ripple (for Maryland’s 350th anniversary in 1984): featuring three kinds of berries available when the first Europeans arrived. “It was kind of a pain to produce, but we kept it up for a year, and legislators kept asking us to bring it back,” says LaPanne.

Star-spangled Explosion (for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812): strawberry ice cream spiked with sherry and swirled with red, white and blue sprinkles and milk chocolate malted (cannon) balls.


Leave a Reply

* indicates a required field