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Martha’s Bits & Bytes Ice Cream Sweetens Inauguration

Tubs of Martha's Bits & Bytes are kept cold for the big celebration. Photo by Robert Barker/University Photography.

For the inauguration of Cornell President Martha E. Pollack on Aug. 25, the university dips into tradition to offer a special ice cream for the celebration.

Martha’s Bits & Bytes – a nod to Pollack’s artificial intelligence research – is a custard-based French vanilla featuring a banana swirl with soft brownie morsels and white chocolate flecks.

The frozen treat will be served at the celebratory Street Fair on the Arts Quad Aug. 25 from 4 to 5:30 p.m., following the inauguration ceremony.

Cornell’s delicious tradition of creating original ice cream flavors for presidential inaugurations continues. For Hunter Rawlings’ installation in 1995, Cornell Dairy developed Inauguration Swirl, a chocolate ice cream with a mocha ribbon.

The inauguration of Jeffrey Lehman ’77 went global in 2003, as it spotlighted Ezra and Andrew’s World View, espresso ice cream with a fudge swirl accentuating flavors from all continents: It had a hint of cinnamon and vanilla, with crushed hazelnuts and praline pecans. The flavor from Antarctica: ice, of course.

At David Skorton’s celebration in 2006, Cornellians savored Banana-Berry Skorton, a jazzy chocolate-based ice cream with a banana and raspberry swirl.

Elizabeth Garrett’s inauguration in 2015 featured 24 Garrett Swirl ice cream, made of her personal favorite flavors chocolate, caramel and mocha.

In a salute to Frank H.T. Rhodes, the dairy concocted Rocky Rhodes to celebrate his retirement in 1995.

Martha Pollack and her husband, Ken Gottschlich, enjoy samples of potential inauguration ice creams during a tasting in April. Photo by Jason Koski/University Photography.

Martha’s Bits & Bytes is kosher, premium ice cream containing 16 percent butterfat and 85 percent overrun (air in the ice cream, to keep it from becoming flavored butter). Dunkirk Flavors of Dunkirk, New York, created the banana swirl specially for the ice cream. Cornell Dairy made 247 3-gallon tubs, 120 pints and six 1.5 gallon tubs, which can feed 12,350 people.

Deanna Simons, Cornell Dairy’s quality manager and academic programs coordinator, worked with Pollack to select her favorite flavors and to assemble samples. Simons and food science interns Karen Peck, MPS ’17, and Ashton Yoon, MPS ’17, M.S. ’19, conducted two tastings for the president before Pollack made her choice.

“Martha loves ice cream,” said Simons. “We put together several ideas with a few different combinations, and we mocked up samples using a tabletop freezer. When she tasted this sample, she loved it. She absolutely loved it.”

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.