A tempting display of ice cream flavors meets the eye when first walking into the Dairy Bar, including the famed SDSU cookies ‘n cream, blueberry revel, butter brickle—the list seems infinite. One might wonder what mysterious hand conjures up the delicious concoctions that make the Dairy Bar as well known as it is.
The SDSU Davis Dairy Plant is the steam that drives the engine. It processes approximately 10,000 pounds of milk every week. According to Dairy Plant Manager Jake Anderson, the current Dairy Bar opened at the end of last April. Processing started in the new plant last May.
The Dairy Plant supplies all the dairy products sold in the Dairy Bar. The Dairy Plant’s main products include fluid milk, ice cream and cheese. Some butter is processed as well. The milk goes out to all the food services on campus. Aramark is the only entity the Dairy Plant sells its milk to. The cheese is also sold mainly on campus. The ice cream is sold on campus at food service locations, concessions and also at locations in Sioux Falls and Huron.
“The ice cream is what we’re known for,” Anderson said.
The variety of ice cream flavors is credited to ideas from students or alumni. Anderson said the Dairy Plant is currently working on a black liquorish flavor now that several people have asked for it. The plant used to make it several years ago, but it was later removed to make room for new flavors since black liquorish was not a favorite.
At one time the plant was rotating up to 90 different flavors. The plant eventually decided to lower the number to a more reasonable range.
“Currently we have about 50 to 60 flavors that we cycle through,” Anderson said.
Anderson also said the milk processed at the Dairy Plant comes from the campus dairy farm. Dairy science students work at the plant and use the opportunity as valuable job experience.
“It gives you an overall process flow,” said Nathan Gollinck, a senior dairy manufacturing major. “You get to see ice cream, cheese, milk, everything, whereas in a regular plant you’d only get to see one individual part.”
Eric Flynn, a sophomore dairy manufacturing major, felt the same way.
“It’s on the small side, but you get to cover everything. It looks good on a résumé,” he said.
According to Anderson, most universities concentrate only on dairy production and dairy manufacturing usually becomes a part of food science. The SDSU dairy program is unique.
“We’re one of only two universities in the nation that have a dairy science program that focuses on two sides,” Anderson said.
Along with its distinctive program, the Dairy Plant has exceptional research equipment. This sets SDSU’s dairy program apart again, as several companies that donated money to the new plant can come in and conduct research.
Anderson believes that Baby Bel’s new plant in Brookings will be a bonus for the dairy program at SDSU. He said what caught Baby Bel’s attention about Brookings was its interest in SDSU’s new Dairy Plant.
“We’re excited,” Anderson said. “It’s a program that’s going to be locally interested in our graduates.”