Two big players in Wisconsin’s food world are now an item. They were introduced at a CALS anniversary party earlier this year and are now sought-after for all the best campus events. We’re talking about Happy Cranniversary, the harmonious blend of vanilla ice cream and cranberry that the Babcock Hall dairy plant created in honor of CALS’ 125th anniversary.
A lot of people helped arrange this marriage. The name and basic idea came from Allison Dungan, an outreach specialist in the CALS soil science department who submitted the winning entry in a “name the anniversary ice cream” contest that drew 434 contenders. Concocting the flavor was the job of Bill Klein, manager of the Babcock dairy plant, and research intern Sandy Hughes.
Klein knows a thing or two about inventing ice cream flavors—he’s developed dozens of great ones— but in this case he decided to get some help with the key ingredient. He turned to Marcy Berlyn, co-owner of Rubi Reds, a firm in Wisconsin Rapids that has found ways to incorporate cranberries into pretty much every food group, from trail mix, honey, vinegar and mustard to bratwurst, cheese, wine, vodka and many more.
“Rubi Reds sent us a total of 10 to 15 different ingredient samples to evaluate,” says Klein. “We tested syrups in the basic ice cream mix until we found the intensity and type we were after. We then hand-mixed different variegates into the ice cream and evaluated for flavor and viscosity.”
The final product has three cranberry ingredients: a syrup for flavor, a thicker, sauce-like “variegate” to form cranberry swirls, and sweetened cranberries.
Happy Cranniversary is a perfect union, mingling sweet and smooth with tart and chewy. It’s been a
big seller in the Babcock Dairy Store and at both UW student unions—and of course it’s been a hit in cranberry country. Rubi Reds has sold it by the scoop at outdoor events and by the carton at its retail store.
“We’ve made multiple runs to Madison to restock,” Berlyn says. “It’s a very popular product. We all love it.”