CLEMSON – There’s something sweet in these hills and soon people nationwide will have access to it.

Participants get to see the ice cream they created.

COVID-19 has canceled Clemson Ice Cream Makers Day for 2020. A virtual ice cream camp will be offered instead.
Image Credit: Clemson College of Agriculture Forestry and Life Sciences

It’s Clemson ice cream and since being created about 100 years ago, it has undergone transformations to keep up with the times. This year is no different. With the threat of COVID-19, students who manage and operate the ’55 Exchange ice cream shop where Clemson ice cream is sold have been forced to make changes including revising the in-person format of Clemson Ice Cream Makers Day summer program and developing a new online ordering system.

Clemson started its first Clemson Ice Cream Makers Day in 2018. This was a day when the public was invited to come to campus and make their very own signature flavor of Clemson ice cream. The first year for the event was so successful, it was held again in 2019.

Because of COVID-19, Clemson Ice Cream Makers Day cannot be held on campus this summer. But, modern technology is allowing the students to offer the same experience virtually. Two Clemson University Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences students, Amy Grace Funcik from the Isle of Palms and Frances Schueren from Philadelphia who help run the ’55 Exchange, said this change is not what they were expecting.

“With our options limited, because of COVID-19, we were expected to be creative in brainstorming and then take action and go for ideas,” Funcik said. “Progress and success happen when we are willing to change plans and adjust accordingly. Also, the fun must go on. Summer camp and ice cream are a great way to do this in these crazy times.”

Planning and implementing the More than Virtual summer ice cream camp has been a valuable learning experience.

“It’s been fun to turn my knowledge of dairy science into something that is understandable and engaging for younger children,” Schueren said. “After I leave Clemson, I hope to continue to work with kids in some capacity, and this experience of translating my knowledge to a form that makes sense to a different audience will be applicable in communicating with others, regardless of age.

“This is my first experience working remotely, and it has taught me how to collaborate efficiently through online avenues. It has strengthened my communication and collaboration skills immensely as I’ve adapted to Zoom meetings and longer E-mail strings.”

The camp will be a four-day experience held during the weeks of July 20 and 27. Each camp will cover the science of ice cream making and the creation of a signature Clemson Ice Cream flavor that will be shipped direct to each participant’s home. The sessions will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday followed by an online ice cream social from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday. Cost is $199 for each location registration and includes a shipment of participants’ signature Clemson Ice Cream. An adult is requested to accompany children ages 6-11 years old. Youth ages 12-16 may participate independently.

Sessions will be hosted online via Zoom. During these sessions, youth will learn the science of ice cream making and create their own signature ice cream flavors. Clemson students will use these recipes to create ice cream in Newman Hall’s Ice Cream Innovation Lab and will ship six pints of ice cream to camp participants.

Registration for the first camp will close on July 6 and the second camp will close on July 13. For more information and to register, go to https://www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/icecream/tours.html. Opportunities to schedule private group sessions also are available.

Future plans include taking this program to underfunded K-12 schools as an ice cream entrepreneurship program. Anyone who would like to sponsor this endeavor is asked to contact Johnny McGregor, faculty advisor, at 864-650-0817 or johnny@clemson.edu.

In addition to holding a virtual summer camp, the ’55 Exchange is now accepting online orders for Clemson Ice Cream to be shipped directly to customers. Online orders can be placed at www.clemson.edu/icecream.

The ’55 Exchange is a student-run business and, much like other small food business retailers, it has taken a big financial hit from forced closure due to COVID-19. The students are hoping online ordering and virtual summer camps will help recoup some of their loss. But they need help.

“We operate just like any other small business, including paying rent to the university, as well as paying our student and professional staff,” Funcik said. “We entered the shutdown with a strong balance sheet, but with no means to generate sales, our financial strength has been severely impacted, placing the ’55 Exchange business future in jeopardy. So, we are looking for members of the Clemson Family to help us promote the launch of our ice cream shipping program.”

Anyone interested in helping promote ’55 Exchange programs can email Funcik at  afuncik@g.clemson.edu.

In addition to online ordering, hand packed pints also are available from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Thursdays at the Clemson Farmers Market in Patrick Square. Online purchases are encouraged to help maintain social distancing, but cash also will be accepted. Online purchases for pickup at the Clemson Farmer’s Market can be made at www.clemson.edu/icecream. Available flavors are posted on the ’55 Exchange’s Facebook and Instagram pages each Thursday morning – https://www.facebook.com/55exchange and https://www.instagram.com/clemsonicecream.

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