To high schoolers choosing a college, Ice Cream University sounds like a fun place to get an education. For juniors with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, who are attending schools in Baltimore or Harford counties, Ice Cream University is indeed a possibility.
This unique program – born from a partnership between Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and TIC Gums, in Belcamp, Md. – provides hands-on instruction from Cornell's Department of Food Science as well as food industry experts. This year marks the fifth consecutive year TIC Gums has held Ice Cream University and according to Business Development Manager Tim Andon, it's a way for the company to serve the community they've called home for decades.
"As a graduate of Cornell and a lifelong Marylander, I wanted to give back to this area and spark a passion for food science among area students," Andon said. "This is a career that not a lot of people are aware of, but it plays a really important role in our lives. Food accessibility and the process from farm to table are areas that students can make a future in."
Modeled after Cornell's Introduction to Food Science class, the Ice Cream University course covers the production of ice cream from marketing to launch. Held on Saturdays from March 11 to April 8 at TIC Gums' Texture Innovation Center in White Marsh, the program teaches 17 lucky students how to develop an ice cream flavor in a quasi-commercial setting. At the same time, the fledgling ice cream connoisseurs get a taste of food science and marketing. For the course's "final exam", the finished ice cream products are presented to a panel of experts who judge both the ice cream and the marketing proposal. The winning product is then sold to the public at Broom's Bloom Dairy in Bel Air, Md.
Combining both science and business components – from designing and naming the product flavor, to creating a theme and a marketing pitch – Ice Cream University gives students a taste of several industries as potential college and career choices. It's a novel approach to learning and, as Andon points out, the value of the program goes far beyond ice cream. "We've had participants who chose to go into food science because of this program," he said. "We've even had a participant attend Cornell's program as a result."
For Andon and his TIC Gums team, it's a time commitment that's well worth the effort.
"Volunteering our time on these Saturdays isn't for company publicity or credit," Andon said. "This is the right thing to do for the area my family and I grew up in."
For more information about TIC Gums and the Ice Cream University program visit ticgums.com/icecreamuniversity.