Fresno State dairy tempts customers with 65 flavors
Summer is here, and what better way to cool the Valley’s sizzling heat than with ice cream?
And if you want local, look no further than Fresno State, whose student-run dairy is churning out more than 65 flavors, from apple pie to sinful cinnamon.
The dairy has quietly become known for handcrafting small batches of rich, homemade style ice cream. And its operation is growing.
Along with selling at Fresno State’s Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market at Barstow and Chestnut avenues, it is now sold in nine other outlets, including The Market at Herndon and West avenues, Scoops, Soups & More in Old Town Clovis and their newest vendor, the Reedley Sandwich Shop.
And starting early next year, the expanded Fresno State farmer’s market will feature a counter were customers can buy ice cream by the cone or cup, along with the bigger containers.
“I think part of what makes us different is that we use fresh ingredients and everything is done on a small scale,” says Daniel Avila, manager of the dairy processing plant. “We don’t have ice cream sitting in a warehouse waiting to be eaten.”
Reedley Sandwich Shop owner Jessica McCahill says she was looking for a local ice cream to feature in her restaurant and liked Fresno State’s creamy flavors.
She also is working with Avila to create an ice cream based on one of the restaurant’s signature desserts: a seven-layer bar.
The ice cream will be packed with coconut, butterscotch, chocolate, pecans, walnuts, chocolate chips and graham cracker.
“Their ice cream is so good,” McCahill says. “We will be their guinea pigs anytime.”
Avila says he and the students come up with nearly all the flavors. Big hits have been Tahitian vanilla, caramel toffee, cake batter, Almond Joy and Bulldog Tracks, a vanilla-and-chocolate- swirled concoction filled with chocolate chips and chunks of peanut butter cups.
Also popular are two ice cream sandwiches. One is filled with strawberry ice cream squeezed in between two thick pieces of chocolaty brownie, and the other has vanilla ice cream in between chocolate chip cookies.
But not all flavors are a hit. The students produced a green tea flavor that didn’t do well. And black licorice sold well for several months, and then fizzled after the novelty wore off.
Still in the works are spicy flavors such as jalapeño and wasabi.
“I think we may have to tone down the wasabi a little bit,” Avila says. “It is pretty strong.”
For Avila, giving customers what they want is important, along with making sure the ice cream will sell. All of the dairy unit’s profits are pumped back into the operation, which serves as a real-world experience for students.
Ice cream customers Bill and Cora Shipley, owners of Scoop’s, Soups & More, have been selling Fresno State ice cream for about 10 years. The restaurant features 25 flavors, including several they requested: banana nut, maple nut and black walnut.
“These are flavors that people remember from the ’50s and ’60s, and we thought it would be good to bring them back,” Shipley says. “And people really like them.”
By Robert Rodriguez