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Ferdinand’s huckleberry ice cream wins national Flavor Faceoff

PULLMAN, Wash. – Save the champagne; Washington State University is celebrating with ice cream. Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe has won the 2012 Progressive Dairyman magazine Flavor Faceoff with its huckleberry ice cream. The competition allowed ice cream fans from across the nation to vote online for the top honor.

Dale Moore enjoying Ferdinand’s huckleberry ice cream in a “Grabber,” a thick ice cream sandwich featuring two oatmeal cookies and an ice cream center. Click image for a high-resolution version. Photo by Sandy Poisson/WSU.

Facing stiff competition from both commercial and university dairies nationwide, the huckleberry ice cream was nominated by Dale Moore, WSU Extension livestock veterinarian. In her nomination, Moore declared that “huckleberry represents the Northwest like no other flavor. The milk for Ferdinand’s Ice Cream comes from our very own campus dairy with some of the friendliest cows you’ll meet!”

Reached by phone, Moore had just returned from visiting seven dairies in two days — to make sure the cows were producing good milk for more ice cream. Learning of the win, she thanked all the Ferdinand’s fans for voting, with special gratitude to Dean Dan Bernardo of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences for rallying the troops.

Moore says the best way to enjoy the huckleberry ice cream is in a “Grabber,” which features a large scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies.

What is the secret to Ferdinand’s ice cream? “The love that our students put into it,” said WSU Creamery manager Russ Salvadalena. The creamery employs 25 students in production, and up to 70 students per year, including those in the retail storefront, direct marketing and seasonal help. The operation makes 16 flavors of ice cream year round as well as four or five seasonal flavors.

Huckleberry debuted as a seasonal flavor Sept. 24, 2008, celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the opening of Ferdinand’s on the Pullman campus. The flavor soon became a favorite and graduated to year-round production. Huckleberry was the fourth-most popular flavor in 2011, with production of 500 3-gallon containers.

Salvadalena noted that they will have to crank out even more of the flavor, because the Flavor Faceoff award caught the creamery flat-footed and sold out of huckleberry ice cream. Disappointed fans won’t have long to wait, though: huckleberry should be back in the case no later than Aug. 13.

For information and a video on Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe, visit http://bit.ly/ferdinands.