St. Paul dairy salesroom offers cheeses, ice cream at thrifty prices

Is this the cheese place?” biology junior Priyanka Singh asked, eyeing the growing number of people gathering in the Andrew Boss Laboratory-Meat Science Building.

“I heard you have to show up early,” she said, taking her place at the end of the line.

Singh, like many others, waited 30 minutes to snap up the latest flavors of cheese and ice cream made in the University’s dairy classes; the products are sold Wednesdays on the St. Paul campus.

Kay Ferrell, a retired airline representative, brought four of her friends to the sale because, she said, cheese here is smoother, fresher and better-tasting than cheese sold in local grocery stores.

The dairy salesroom is becoming more popular as customers like Ferrell tell their friends about its fair prices and tasty products.

Jodi Nelson, a junior scientist in the food science and nutrition department, estimates if they decided to sell products based on demand, the classes’ inventory would be gone in two weeks.

Because of the increase in patrons and a limited supply, salespeople now regulate sales more closely, Nelson said. Salespeople have the right to limit the number of products purchased per customer.

The rotation of cheese flavors sold is always changing, and selection ranges from traditional mozzarella to dill Havarti and garlic Gouda, Nelson said.

From her 12 years of experience in the dairy salesroom, Nelson said she noticed one of the most popular options is the Nuworld Spread, a white bleu cheese spread produced only at the University.

Despite its popularity, the dairy salesroom is not in the business of making money – it is a 60-year-old invention to negate some of the costs involved in dairy research, said Dave Smith, professor of food and dairy technology.

“If we did not have a means of selling product from class, we would have to throw it away,” he said. Therefore, the products available are sold at a price fit for students, but one that does not undercut competitors who also help in research, Smith said.

Continuing education student Katie Cargill said the low cost is one reason she supports the dairy salesroom.

“I got all this cheese for 10 dollars,” she said, thumping a bulging paper bag filled with feta cheese, Swiss cheese and cheese curds.

Cargill also purchases ice cream because it is so “cheap and chocolaty.”

Flavors such as black raspberry explosion and brickhouse (made with a chocolate base, Bordeaux cherry and chocolate chunks) account for between 75 and 100 pints of ice cream and frozen yogurt sold each week, Nelson said.

People who buy dairy products know supplies are limited and many people would like a slice of the parmesan wheel, so they are happy with almost any flavor, Nelson said.

But for Smith, the top choice is bleu cheese. “You’ll either love it or hate it,” he said. “There are no ‘tweeners’ on bleu cheese.”

Sarah Saline is a freelance writer. The freelance editor welcomes comments at [email protected]