Keeping Up With the Demand for Cougar Gold Cheese

If you’ve ever visited the WSU Pullman campus, chances are you’ve made a stop at Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe. Home of the award-winning white cheddar cheese that comes in a can - Cougar Gold – the WSU Creamery’s storefront, Ferdinand’s, has been churning out delectable cheeses and ice cream treats since the 1940s.

As part of the WSU Food Sciences program, the Creamery self-funded and generates its own revenue to cover operational expenses, student wages, staff salaries and benefits. Ferdinand’s employs roughly 50 students each year, providing invaluable work experience in all aspects of the operation, from production and packaging, to retail, marketing and shipping.

Early each morning, a truck transports raw milk from the research herd of 95 dairy cattle at WSU’s Knotts Dairy Center to the Creamery. Food Science students and staff set about pasteurizing what will, by the end of the day, become the next batch of cheddar, ice cream, or any other variety of tempting commercial dairy products.

“Demand creeps up every year,” says Ferdinand’s Buyer/Planner Nial Yager. “We do 800 cans per batch, and we do six batches each week, every week.” This amounts to almost 250,000 cans of cheese each year. Cans are aged for one year before they’re ready for sale. “We are always trying to stay up with demand, but, even so, last year we ran out of Cougar Gold right around Thanksgiving!”    

Ferdinand’s Ice cream is available exclusively on the WSU campus. Cheese is available at Ferdinand’s and other retail locations in Pullman, WSU bookstores and select retail locations throughout Washington, but you can always order online

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