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By Blaine Friedlander
  • Food Science
  • Food
  • Dairy
Imagine tasting the perfect autumn day in a scoop of ice cream.

Your mind wanders, enjoying a dreamy vanilla base that features apple, cinnamon, maple and tiny chunks of graham cracker. It’s just like fresh, warm apple pie à la mode – only everything is frozen.

You’re going to need a bigger waffle cone.

In Cornell’s annual contest that serves as the Food Science 1101 final project, six student teams dreamt, developed and delivered six original flavors to the judges. And Team Three, which concocted “Apple Commons,” was the winner.

“Our ice cream embodies the community spirit of Cornell and Ithaca, exemplified through Applefest, where we may enjoy the warmth of friends and family,” the team wrote in its flavor description for the judges. “Apple Commons ice cream brings a sense of comfort, companionship and seasonal familiarity … we could all use a little more of that.”

“It was difficult to come to a final decision,” said Christopher R. Loss, the Louis Pasteur Lecturer in the Department of Food Science, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “For Apple Commons, there was an appealing balance from a sensory and thematic standpoint – the new and the familiar. There is also good potential for broad appeal among a variety of consumer segments.”

Students making ice cream in a dairy plant
Lucy Huang, right, Emma Berkowitz, Parker Venator and teaching assistant Anna Sprouse ’23 add graham cracker crumbles to Apple Commons ice cream. Photo by Christopher Loss/Provided

The team paid homage to Ithaca’s 2020 Apple Harvest Festival, which was cancelled due to the pandemic; the Ithaca Commons (a community gathering hub) and to Appel Commons, an important part of North Campus. Because Apple Fest was cancelled in the fall, everyone “missed out on the experience this year,” said Jonathan Chai ’21. “We wanted to capture some of that community spirit in our ice cream, Apple Commons.”

Lucy Huang ’21, who led the team, said many factors contributed to deciding their team’s flavor. Team members sought balance and did not want the cinnamon, maple or apple flavors to overpower the others. “We chose a classic flavor,” she said, “so I think the judges appreciated our efforts in translating a familiar flavor into a new form.”

Trying to find something new to develop, the group combed through several delicious ideas.

“It was difficult to find an interesting and new flavor that could still be manufactured at Cornell Dairy,” said Huang, who credited teammate Kevin Lituchy ’21 as the first to pitch the apple idea. “The moment he said it, it just clicked.”

The other ice cream contestants included runner-up “Cherry on Top,” with cherries, chocolate and cinnamon; “Big Red Breakfast,” a maple-butter-corn base with sea salt, corn flakes and toffee bits; “Second Dam Spiced Cider,” offering spiced apples and cinnamon; “Sundae Barbecue,” featuring vanilla, cinnamon and salted chocolate-covered pretzels; and “For What It’s Earth,” combined the earthy flavors of basil, lavender, honey and chopped almonds.

In addition to Huang, Chai and Lituchy, the other winning team members are Emma Berkowitz ’24, Lily Childs ’24, Maria Moreau ’24, Parker Venator ’24

The judges were: Robin Dando, professor of food science; Louise M. Felker, extension support specialist;  Julie Goddard ‘99, Ph.D. ’08, associate professor of food science; Deanna Simmons, quality manager and academic programs coordinator for Cornell Dairy; Brynn Wilkins, undergraduate program coordinator, food science; and Paul Zullo, quality assurance and development chef, Cornell Dining.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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