The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

‘Huskies love Cougar Gold’

Ferdinand’s celebrates its 75th Anniversary
Ferdinand’s current location, where it has been since moving from Troy Hall over 30 years ago

On Saturday Washington State University’s Creamery celebrated its 75th anniversary. The Creamery, more frequently called Ferdinand’s, has had a long history of being rooted in the WSU community. 

The Creamery began as a fund-raising effort for WSU’s dairy products judging team, wherein the students part of the work team would sell ice cream. This marked the beginning of WSU’s ice cream production, which would later become the school’s official creamery operation, Ferdinand’s Manager, John Haugen, said.  

The name “Ferdinand’s” comes from the middle name of one of the student members of the dairy products judging team: Rune Goranson, and from the 1938 Disney short film “Ferdinand the Bull,” which was released at the same time, Haugen said.

In tribute, the storyboard of “Ferdinand the Bull” can be seen on the walls of The Creamery, Haugen said.

Haugen, who began his Ferdinand’s career in 1990 as a student, can be found among Ed Olson, Mark Bates, and Russ Salvadolena on the roster of Ferdinand’s faithful managers and overseers, he said.

Originally, the creamery was intended as the university’s milk producer for the dining halls. However, the dining halls used milk from third-party co-ops as it was the cheaper alternative to the university having to produce large amounts of milk themselves, Haugen said.

This allowed Ferdinand’s to progress from summer-only cheese production to year-round cheese production in the mid-1970s, as they no longer had to provide milk to the dining halls, he said.

Another key moment in Ferdinand’s history was the Creamery’s transition in 1992 from being in Troy Hall to its current location at the Food Quality Building, Haugen said.

“At the time, it was a little bit controversial because there were some people that were thinking it wasn’t going to work because Ferdinand’s used to be right in the middle of campus where there’s a lot of traffic, and at the time, there weren’t very many buildings out here. It was kind of on the very outer edge of campus and not very many people came out here so they’re like, ‘Oh, no one’s go out to Ferdinand’s.’ Well, people did,” Haugen said.

The move and expansion have also allowed Ferdinand’s to increase its storage and cheese and ice cream production, he said.

Ferdinand’s famous canned cheese came about due to a grant put together by the United States government and Army to find a way to best get the cheese to troops, as the plastic packages the cheese came in at the time was known to burst, Haugen said.  

This resulted in Dr. Norman Golding, the namesake of Cougar Gold, discovering a unique or adjunct culture to introduce to the milk that would allow it to be packaged and flavored the way it is today. While there is now vacuum-sealing technology to remedy the issue, WSU has kept its unique way of canning cheese, which is now recognized worldwide, he said.  

The Creamery’s true goal is to empower and uplift students, some of whom now work in the dairy industry and work alongside the Creamery, Haugen said.  

“The main reason we’re here doing what we’re doing is for the student employees that get the work experience,” Haugen said. “That’s really our primary goal or reason for existence— cheese and ice cream are the byproducts of that.”

The fruits of Ferdinand’s labor are not only enjoyed by the students and staff, but by its loyal customers, who came to the Creamery for its 75th anniversary celebration.

“I think it’s pretty damn cool,” said customer Tyree Carter.

Despite being lactose-intolerant, Carter enjoys Ferdinand’s Cougar Tracks and hopes that the Creamery maintains its quality as it continues, he said.

Customers at the celebration expressed the desire for Ferdinand’s to remain consistent in its quality for customers as well as their support for the student employees said Daphne Barry, Bri Rodgers and Alex Rodgers, customers at the celebration. 

The Creamery has an ability to bring together Cougars and Huskies as well, Joanne Cochran, another customer at the celebration, said.  

The love for Ferdinand’s is shared by her WSU and UW relatives even though both schools share a rivalry, she said.  

“Huskies love Cougar Gold,” Cochran said.  

To honor the anniversary, Ferdinand’s created a specialty Red Velvet flavor that will continue to sell while supplies last, Haugen said. 

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About the Contributor
MATTHEW RAGSDALE, Evergreen photographer
Matthew Ragsdale is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. They are a senior Biology major. Matthew started working for the Daily Evergreen in Summer of 2023.