'From Cow to Cone' course to be offered by UDairy Creamery manager
Weeks after achieving national recognition for their award-winning sundae, the UDairy Creamery continues to showcase their tasty treats in marts and dining halls across campus. But during the 2015 winter session, students will have the opportunity to do more than just eat “Junk in the Tree Trunk” and “Nanner Nutter.” They will actually learn the fundamentals of creating and marketing ice cream as a product to consumers.
Through ANFS167: “From Cow to the Cone,” thirty students will participate in a hands-on class taught by Creamery manager Melinda Litvinas. With help from assistant manager, Jen Rodammer––as well as five food science faculty members––the team will strive to exemplify UDairy’s mantra of cow to cone success and everything in between.
The course will not be limited to any major in an effort to promote the agriculture school and food science major to all students, Litvinas says.
“The Creamery was founded really with the principle that we were here for the students, and it’s always been an interest of ours to have a class,” Rodammer says. “But we haven’t really been able to pursue it just because we were trying to kind of catch up to where we are right now.”
Litvinas says it was a challenge to get started initially, since they are off-campus workers and not university faculty, but Dean Rieger of the College of Agriculture and National Resources and the food science faculty were supportive in the success of the course. Litvinas designed most of the syllabus and will be the course instructor, with each of the five food science professors teaching the class through guest lectures.
Along with the food science faculty, flavoring company David Michael & Co. and ingredients manufacturing company Star Kay White will also speak to the class.
The course will encompass introductory lectures on research and development, execution of product development through hands-on lab experience and strategic marketing ideas to promote the company and product.
The labs will take place outside of the classroom and at the Creamery, where students will learn freezing and flavoring techniques. Those enrolled will eventually apply their learned skills by creating ice cream novelties, including popsicles, sandwiches and new flavor options. Because UDairy contains its own processing facility, Litvinas and Rodammer will help students test their ideas and price their products.
If these creative ideas are unique, practical and feasible, both Litvinas and Rodammer see no problem with implementing the products.
Food science professor and intended guest lecturer Kalmia Kniel served as a mentor to the women. She says this course will not only allow students to learn about ice cream, but also about the impact of flavor trends in the development of new products, logistics of running a business, food industry careers and ensuring food safety and quality.
“We wanted to capture upon how the University of Delaware community has really come to appreciate food and appreciate agriculture using UDairy as our focal point,” Kniel says. “This is a wonderful opportunity to get the creamery more integrated into the curriculum and to teach students about how much fun the science really is behind all of the food that we eat.”
Rodammer also discussed the benefits to learning about food processing and ingredients.
“Right now there’s such a huge trend in understanding what ingredients are going into your food and the processing and processed food versus natural foods,” Rodammer says. “And this really gives you a great opportunity to see, for a great easy treat, kind of where it starts and how it ends.”
The importance of understanding ingredients in products was demonstrated in a New York Times poll conducted in 2013 where 93 percent of respondents said food containing genetically modified or engineered food should be properly identified through labeling.
Because this course is in its “trial run” this winter, the future for the course is undetermined at the moment.
“If this is successful, we’ll definitely do it every winter because that’s the best time for us to do it,” Litvinas says. “If it becomes a course for the full semesters—it’s a possibility, but we’ll have to see how it goes first.”