Think bananas. Vanilla wafers. Then, instead of pudding, think ice cream.
Banana pudding — the latest ice cream flavor from NC State’s Howling Cow creamery — was introduced to the public last month and had the best debut of any new flavor since Wolf Tracks was introduced two years ago. “We sold out in a less than a week,” says Carl Hollifield ’02. That means the contents of 30 3-gallon tubs, or about 2,800 scoops, were sold during that time period.
Hollifield, who got his degree in agricultural business management, is the business manager for Howling Cow, NC State’s ice cream-producing arm of the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. The ice cream production is run like a business but profits are plowed back into the department to help fund research. (Students don’t have a lot to do with the ice cream. “They are usually busy studying more advanced dairy topics, like probiotics,’’ Hollifield says.)
The Dairy Enterprise Center, as the operation is formally called, has about 20 regular flavors, most of which can be found on sale by the scoop at the Creamery at D.H. Hill Library in the Erdahl-Cloyd wing. About 10 more flavors that have been sold in the past are available to be rotated in as needed, and the center comes up with a new flavor about twice a year. All the ice cream is made in the basement of Schaub Hall.
The idea for banana pudding ice cream came after an all-natural banana flavor had been added to soft-serve ice cream on sale at University Dining locations. The students liked it, so some of the production managers at Howling Cow started thinking about a banana pudding ice cream.
But preparing to introduce a new flavor takes time, Hollifield says. After the concept is developed, the first step is to contact vendors to get samples of the best banana flavoring that would work in Howling Cow ice cream. It takes several weeks to get samples, and then once the correct vendor is selected, a larger volume order is placed, which takes several more weeks. For early test batches, he used Nilla brand vanilla wafers, but later purchased generic brands that taste the same. “We had to get a vendor that would sell 100 pounds of vanilla wafers at a time,” Hollifield says.
The final touch to the flavor was the addition of marshmallow swirl, called a “varigant” in ice cream-making parlance. Hollifield says the marshmallow swirl was already being used in another flavor — the s’mores-like campfire delight — so that part was easy. A first batch of a quart was made to test the flavors and the mix. The main tweaks to the recipe involved the amount of flavoring. After that, a 30-gallon batch was made with more taste-testing.
Now, Hollifield and his crew will wait to see if banana pudding has the staying power of Wolf Tracks, which is a mixture of vanilla, fudge and miniature peanut butter cups. The last flavor to “bite the dust,” Hollifield said, was coco-nutt, a blend of coconut and nuts. “Coconut is one of those flavors that’s kind of polarizing,” says Hollified. “You either like it or you don’t.”
If a scoop at the Creamery at D.H. Hill isn’t enough, you can buy a 30-gallon tub of banana pudding in Room 12 of Schaub Hall, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The building is at the corner of Dan Allen Drive and Sullivan Drive. And in a few weeks, egg nog by the quart will be available.
—Sylvia Adcock ’81