The star of the meal at the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry is always fish, right? That’s true most of the time. In 1999, at the low point of the hog price crisis, the star was pork, to show solidarity for pork producers. In 2019, it was ice cream.
But not just any ice cream — Boiler Tracks was developed through the Purdue Food Science Department to celebrate the university’s 150th anniversary. The ice cream debuted at the 2019 fish fry. Not even Purdue ag communications staff knew it was coming. It was a surprise.
According to all reports, it was a very sweet surprise, indeed. Boiler Tracks is vanilla ice cream with caramel, chocolate and toffee bits swirled inside. People say it tastes as good as it sounds.
Boiler Tracks story
Here’s Indiana Prairie Farmer’s interview with Brian Farkas, head of Purdue food science. He explains the story behind Boiler Tracks.
The audience at the fish fry was told students developed Boiler Tracks. Is that true? Yes. In the final semester of their four-year degree, students majoring in food science at Purdue take FS 443 Food Product Design, their capstone course. Students use their training in microbiology, chemistry and process engineering to develop a new product in an assigned category.
In the spring semester of 2017, seven student teams were tasked to generate an ice cream representative of and befitting Purdue in association with Purdue University’s 150th anniversary celebration. If selected, the final product would be served during special events as well as in dining courts and sold at campus stores.
Purdue Dining worked with Dharmendra Mishra, the instructor, to detail what parameters would be required for the ice cream product. Students focused on forming an idea, sourcing, testing, scaling and evaluating product using department facilities, including the Skidmore Product Development Laboratory, pilot plant and sensory science laboratory. Of seven products developed, Boiler Tracks was selected. Other formulations were also very, very good and may also be “rolled out” in the future.
Who made the ice cream served in attractive packaging at the fish fry? Round Barn Creamery was selected to produce Boiler Tracks. The owners of Round Barn Creamery are alumni of Purdue’s Animal Sciences Department. Round Barn Creamery is located near Kewanna in Fulton County. Learn more about it on Facebook.
What fish fry-goers want to know is, can they buy the ice cream somewhere? Round Barn Creamery is producing Boiler Tracks ice cream now. It will be available in the dining halls, animal sciences’ Butcher Block store and campus convenience stores in March.
Who are the students who developed it, and where are they now? They include Yiwen Bao, a Purdue graduate student; Joel Mohring, AmeriQual, Evansville, Ind.; Molly Powell, Clabber Girl Corp. in research and development, Terre Haute, Ind.; Deklin Veenhuizen, Diageo Brands, a process engineering co-op in Plainfield, Ill.; Cameron Wicks, University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student; and Luping Xu, a Purdue graduate student.