Scoops of Nostalgia: The University of Tennessee’s Creamery brings a sweet tradition back to campus

The re-opening of UT’s on-campus Creamery is mixing together Big Orange Spirit with delicious ice cream!

The University of Tennessee has reintroduced a beloved tradition with the opening of its new Creamery, offering flavors like “Go Big Orange” and “Vol-nilla.” What makes the opportunity really sweet for the students involved is a chance to do much more than serve scoops. In fact, they are responsible for running the entire business.

The UT Creamery is a collaborative effort between UT’s Institute of Agriculture, the Herbert College of Agriculture, and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences’ Rocky Top Institute of Retail.

“So, they have the retail students who get to manage the business side of retail, and then we have students that we hire from all majors across the university, and they really get to experience what it’s like to work with the public,” explained Myra Loveday, a representative from the UT Creamery.

However, this is not just any ice cream parlor. The reopening of this dining experience adds a sprinkle of nostalgia to the campus because it is actually part of a rich history of campus life at the University. In fact, UT operated the creamery from 1915 to 1985. Black and white photos from the old Creamery are proudly displayed around the new facility, bridging the past and present.

Today, UT’s Herbert College of Agriculture students take charge of producing the ice cream. This reopening revives that cherished tradition while incorporating modern science as they meticulously mix ingredients in a lab, resulting in delightful flavors like “Smokey’s Strawberry Kisses.”

“We’re bringing in a pasteurized mix in the ice cream process, and then what we do is we add it to what we call the barrel freezer,” explained Nathan Miller, one of the students involved in the ice cream production. “Then the barrel freezer is like your homemade ice cream freezer that you would see at your house – uses rock and ice salt. Here we use mechanical refrigeration on a much larger scale.”

The Creamery, located on Neyland Drive across from Sorority Village, is open daily from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. It has quickly become a popular spot on campus, offering a blend of tradition and innovation.

“It is definitely one of those cool moments to be sitting in a dining hall or in the student union or just in one of my classes and they’re talking about how great the ice cream is at the Creamery,” said Grace Powell, another student involved in the process. “I’m just sitting there, like—I made that.”

The revival of this storied UT tradition would not have been possible without the support of two university alumnaes, Sue Conley and Peg Smith, co-founders of the successful artisan cheese company, Cowgirl Creamery.

“In the American cheese community, there’s a spirit of collaboration that hasn’t wavered. UT and this area have that going for it, too,” said Conley. “It’s an important project. This kind of business helps everybody—the community, farmers, and consumers who want healthy food.”

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