May 23, 2017

Seniors to dish out 'Big Red, White & Biden' at Convocation

To honor former Vice President Joe Biden when he gives the Convocation address May 27, the Cornell senior class will offer him ice cream and a spoon. Here’s the scoop: It’s named “Big Red, White & Biden.”

“We are all excited to welcome former Vice President Biden in such a unique, authentic Cornell way,” said Matthew Baumel ’17, chair of the Convocation Committee. “With only a few days left on The Hill, this has been a fun effort. The collaboration across several Cornell departments to make this happen has been amazing.”

By tradition, Cornell’s president delivers the Commencement address. Since the mid-1980s, the senior class has invited speakers for Convocation, held the day before graduation.

When the seniors announced in April that Biden would speak, food science major Molly Mandel ’17 learned he was an ice cream aficionado. Mandel showed Deanna Simons, Cornell Dairy’s quality manager, many internet photos of Biden eating ice cream. “When I found out that Joe Biden was speaking, the connection was made instantly between the Cornell Dairy and his love of ice cream,” said Mandel, who interned with the dairy.

The idea for a special ice cream was floated to convocation organizers. Memes touting a Biden flavor spread on social media. The Cornell Daily Sun wrote about it, and members of the national media started calling the university.

Big Red, White & Biden pints
Lindsay France/University Photography
The Cornell Dairy plant prepares a few hundred pints of "Big Red, White & Biden" chocolate chip ice cream May 18 to distribute at Convocation.

“I had no idea that this ice cream would generate so much excitement, not just from Cornell but nationally,” Mandel said.

Tim Barnard, dairy plant manager, called Melinda Shaw at the University of Delaware’s creamery to learn Biden’s favorite ice cream flavor: vanilla chocolate chip.

Convocation organizers held an impromptu ice cream naming contest, where hundreds of suggestions poured in. The winner, Big Red, White & Biden, is vanilla featuring “chunks of chocolate that are sure to be your vice after just one bite,” according to the seniors.

About 70 3-gallon tubs of Big Red, White & Biden will be served over Commencement Weekend and at the Cornell Dairy Bar. It’s a kosher, premium ice cream that took 80 gallons of white ice cream base (milk and sugar), containing 16 percent butterfat and 85 percent overrun (air in the ice cream, to keep it from becoming a flavored butter.) To complete the frozen treat, the dairy used 50 fluid ounces of pure vanilla extract, and 40 pounds of mini chocolate chips from PDI Cone Co. in Buffalo.

Simons noted that the dairy normally uses chocolate flakes in ice cream. This is the first time in her memory that Cornell dairy has used chocolate chips.