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Editor's note: This article is a part of a series reviewing Utah and U.S. history for KSL.com's Historic section.
LOGAN — Ken White can pinpoint one thing that unites everyone who ever attended Utah State University over the past century.
No, it's not True Aggie Night. It's Aggie Ice Cream, a university program and brand that's still churning out delicious ice-cold desserts after 100 years.
"Everybody who has come to Utah State knows what Aggie Ice Cream is, what it tastes like and, more importantly, what it means," said White, the dean of USU's College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. "It's kind of heritage. It's a legacy that our alumni strongly associate with this campus."
That includes Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a USU alumnus, who signed a proclamation in February that designated Tuesday as Aggie Ice Cream Day as a part of a yearlong celebration regarding the brand's centennial. Cache County Executive David Zook issued a county-wide proclamation Tuesday naming Aggie Ice Cream the official ice cream of the county.
"What a perfect day to celebrate ice cream — the first day of summer," Zook said. "It's ice cream season now."
Aggie Ice Cream's origin
While this year marks 100 years of Aggie Ice Cream, the journey leading up to the brand actually began decades before it was established with other forms of dairy. It started with the Aggie Creamery, which was established along with the university itself back in 1888, offering classes on producing cheese and butter, according to a history of the university's dairy compiled by USU professor Donald McMahon.
In 1920, as the then-Utah Agricultural College was in the midst of transforming back into an institution after most of its facilities were used toward support of the U.S. involvement in the Great War, the university bought new machinery that opened the door for wide-scale production of cheese and butter — and opened the door for Aggie Ice Cream to be born.
The following year, the school hired professor Gustav Wilster, who immediately brought the idea of ice cream with him. In the summer of 1922, his class whipped up milk, cheese and ice cream that helped feed an estimated 2,500 people, according to the university.
Aggie Ice Cream was born. The original ice cream flavors back in the day were chocolate, pineapple, raspberry and vanilla, McMahon notes. The program went on to help influence students who opened their own ice cream businesses, like Casper's, Farr's and Snelgrove.
Another of Wilster's students, A.J. Morris, returned to USU in the 1930s to keep the Aggie Ice Cream running after Wilster moved on to take a similar job at Oregon State University. By the end of the decade, Morris had helped add 10 other flavors, including boysenberry, cantaloupe, maple nut, orange and strawberry.
The Aggie Ice Cream shop was eventually established on the north side of The Quad in the 1940s, where it quickly became a staple of the campus.
While operations have expanded over the past century, White says the foundation of Aggie Ice Cream really hasn't changed at all since the first summer, aside from adding and dropping flavors. The entire production, from feeding livestock to turning milk into ice cream, is still a student and faculty-operated.
The university notes that over 50,000 gallons of ice cream are made every year, which is gobbled up not only by USU students and alumni.
(T)here are people who aren't even alumni or graduates, who will come and stop by here on their way to Bear Lake or Yellowstone to be able to partake and enjoy this very important treat," White said.
Celebrating a century
Aggie Ice Cream's centennial celebrations actually began in January, when Aggie Ice Cream announced it would launch three new flavors and bring back three "legacy" flavors and highlighting six of its existing flavors. The university also started scooping out discounts and prizes.
This continued Tuesday when customers received $1 off, or 100 cents, all of their single-scoop cone orders while customers also received prizes. They were also given the opportunity to see baby animals and learn about the Aggie Ice Cream origin story.
Those who have missed the celebrations so far still have plenty of time to celebrate the major anniversary, White said. For instance, he said he's excited about the debut of a new banana-flavored ice cream with coconut, and Brazil nuts called "Monkey Business" that will be released in July just for the celebratory year. Future giveaways are also planned for the second half of the year.
"We think it's highly significant that we've been producing ice cream for 100 years," he said. "To be able (operate all the components of manufacturing) for 100 years is, I think, a really impressive accomplishment."
Contributing: Ryan Lorensen