UConn Dairy Bar

I Dream of Jonathan. There. I Said It.
UConn Dairy Bar, Storrs

May 24, 2009

ica.jpgMy blog is far too big and often unwieldy. It has sprawled from just museums in all sorts of directions and sections. I recently began eating Jane and Michael Stern’s to “road food” items – about 60 in all – across the state. They have a healthy dose of ice cream joints that no one in the CTMQ family is complaining about.

However, they missed one. A HUGE one. The UConn Dairy Bar inspired me to add yet another little section to the blog – yes, even MORE ice cream places worthy of a visit. I can’t believe the Dairy Bar missed the list… It has everything the Road Foodies crave: Local production, cows on premises, old timey atmosphere and most importantly, incredible ice cream.

ice.jpgThe UConn Dairy Bar, or Dairy Product Salesroom as it was originally named, opened sometime between 1953 and 1954 to sell dairy products that were manufactured by the Creamery. It was attractively decorated in the colors and style of the time; black felt-covered menu boards mounted on tan tile walls, stainless steel dipping cabinets, and a curved yellow formica countertop complete with dark green bar stools. Prior to the establishment of this retail operation, the Creamery had been used exclusively for teaching and research.

Remember, UConn began as an agricultural college and if one were to only visit the east end of campus, one would argue it still is. And in a sense, it is. UConn is rural to its core – Storrs is hardly a town, let alone a city, and the drive there often surprises newcomers. When I attended, the Dairy Bar was a tiny little place but they’ve opened a newer operation in the interim (in 1998). While every student often complained about the food at the dining halls, no one could complain that we had our choice of fresh made ice cream every day. No wonder we all got fat at school.

icc.jpgThe retail facility now features a red, white, and black color scheme, ice cream parlor-style chairs and tables, several bar stools taken from the old location, and an observation window for viewing the ice cream making process. The Animal Science building is named after George Cleveland White who served as a Professor of Dairy Husbandry at UConn from 1914 to 1944. He taught Milk Production, Cattle Judging, Animal Nutrition, and Herd Improvement classes.

The Creamery was established in the early 1900s and ceased the majority of its operations in 1991 (but not the ice cream! Thankfully, as that was my freshman year). At its peak, the Creamery employed more than 25 full-time employees, grossed over one million dollars per year, and supplied the UConn dormitories and other state agencies with daily deliveries of fluid milk, sour cream, cream cheese and ice cream. Today, the Creamery manufactures ice cream according to its original and highly popular recipe.

icd.jpgWe enjoyed their Juustoleipa cheese a couple months later. Delicious. But on this visit, we were here for the ice cream. Smooth, creamy, delicious ice cream.

As noted, UConn makes its own stuff. The average milk pick up is 200 gallons. They use the Kellogg Dairy Center milk to manufacture all of our ice cream, cheese, and yogurt. On any given day, the KDC milks an average of 90-100 dairy cows, three times a day per cow! The Dairy Bar uses a fraction of the milk that the UConn cows produce, and the rest is picked up by a milk tanker truck from a farmer owned cooperative and taken to a dairy plant in West Springfield, MA.

icg.jpgI went with their best offering: A cone of Jonathan’s Supreme (Vanilla ice cream, PB swirl, & Chocolate covered Peanuts). Man, this stuff is good. Really, really good… Hoang got pistachio for some reason and Damian enjoyed the Strawberry Cheesecake. Both of those were stand out stuff, but Jonathan’s Supreme is where it’s at for me. (Jonathan is the name of UConn’s husky mascot.)

icf.jpgSince Damian is too young for a tour of the creamery, we were content with viewing the operation through the large viewing window. UConn has a bunch of museums to visit, so the Dairy Bar is the perfect “carrot at the end of the stick” for kids. It is open year round – in fact, I was there once again in July with Damian (CTMQ Visit to the Animal Barns here) and it was PACKED at 2 PM on a weekday. No students, just people like me willing to drive a ways for some of the best ice cream in the state.

Note: UConn Dairy Bar ice cream is available here and there in supermarkets. It is made via a partnership with Guida’s in New Britain and Royal Ice Cream in Manchester – all according to UConn’s recipes and specifications. I’ve never had it out of a container – and I’m sure its good – but c’mon, you’ve got to go to Storrs for the true experience.

Another Note: Old 59′ers in West Hartford center no longer carries Dairy Bar ice cream. Which is lame. I think it was the only place you could get it other than Storrs, but no longer.

UConn Dairy Bar
Excellent article on the Dairy Bar

One response to “UConn Dairy Bar”

  1. Eileen Storrs says:

    Both in the company of my Grandparents & my own parents, my sisters & I were regularly treated here. We’d make the rounds visiting the animal barns & would end at the dairy bar. What a wonderful excursion it was for us & it never lost it’s thrill or power to stimulate our senses of adventure. It goes without saying that the superior ice cream put us into a state of revelry that I am still able to feel, although not when eating other ice cream. When I started to bring my own children to follow the same tradition, we were fortunate enough to witness the birth of a calf in the cow barn. They needed an “R” name since the mother was “Rhonda”, so we suggested “Ruthie” – our little daughter’s name. The following years we visited “Ruthie” & watched as she grew into a fine Holstein. The entire campus was special to us, but mostly the cow barn & dairy bar. Thank you!
    Eileen Storrs

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