Food

Department of Food Science and Technology makes Hokie-inspired ice cream | News

Department of Food Science and Technology makes Hokie-inspired ice cream |  News
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Virginia Tech and Homestead Creamery have teamed up to launch a line of Hokie-inspired ice cream. Joell Eifert, a faculty member in the Department of Food Science and Technology and director of the Food Innovations Program, said the first flavor will go on sale later this fall.

The first flavor, called Hokie Tracks, is vanilla ice cream with caramel and dark chocolate-covered pretzel chunks, according to VTx. It could be tasted at Gobblerfest.

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Eifert and Brian Wiersema, also faculty members of the Food Science and Technology department, led the project. Wiersema has also contributed to the development of the Fightin’ Hokies Lager, which was launched in the spring of 2021.

Wiersema states that the success of the lager prompted the department to explore other potential projects, such as ice cream.

“The beer was one of the first things we wanted to do, so we came up with beer, then it was a success, and that’s how we figured out how to partner with local partners with regional partners,” said Wiersema. “We have a list of things we want to do and (the ice) came high.”

According to Eifert, the Department of Food Science and Technology established a relationship with Homestead in 2004. More recently, the department has begun supporting them with their nutrition fact labels and regulatory compliance. When Eifert and Wiersema thought about which local company to partner with to produce the ice cream, Homestead was a strong contender.

When creating flavor profiles, Eifert noted that she had an idea about what flavors she wanted to see on the market in the process.

“I think of course we’re always looking at trends, things that are going on and what people want, what consumers want,” Eifert said. “But I have to be honest with you, some of the other things we do is we make what we want to see, what we like, and if you look at the new flavors, it’s combinations that aren’t in the public eye now. they are not in the freezers.”

Eifert and Wiersema, both Virginia Tech alumni, wanted to ensure that the ice cream flavors would evoke memories of being back on campus in alumni. However, they could not reveal which flavors are yet to come.

“Unfortunately, we don’t want to share them because we have some great ideas, and I promise you, they’re reminiscent of if you’re a Hokie, and you’ve been there,” Eifert said. “They’re reminiscent of businesses you remember and parts of campus…so we still have flavors, and we don’t want to give them away just yet, but we’re very excited.”

For Eifert and Wiersema, the most challenging part of the process was making the ice attractive to all members of the Virginia Tech community. They wanted to appeal not only to alumni, but also to the current generation of students.

“Of course food is emotional, right?” said Wiersema. “Real food is emotional in how we taste it, in how we experience it and what we think about it afterwards, so we try to remember what it was like when we were younger on campus, and also consider what it’s like for older alum on campus. Trying to hit both sides of that equation (of) the current students, the new alumni and the older alumni, that’s hard to balance.”

To give back and create impact, collaboration with local and regional companies is an important part of the department’s projects, says Eifert. The Fightin’ Hokies Lager is made in collaboration with Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

Eifert and Wiersema also emphasized that part of the proceeds from the sale will go to scholarships and activities.

“That’s where our heart lies. We hope not only to give back and make a positive impact on Virginia’s business, but also positively impact our current and future students,” Eifert said.

The ice cream will use the same distribution streamline as Homestead and will enter retail in late October or early November.

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