Creamery preps for spike in sales over holiday

Canned Cougar Gold cheese is a top seller, with online buyers helping to drive demand nationwide



WSU Creamery Manager John Haugen says the holiday season boosts sales Wednesday morning at Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe.

CODY SCHOELER, Evergreen reporter

While the cold weather may have many students looking forward to a relaxing break at home, WSU Creamery employees are looking forward to a spike in sales as customers buy the famous Cougar Gold cheese for the holidays.

“Typically, it kind of fluctuates from year to year, but somewhere in the 70 percent range of our sales happen from the beginning of October through December,” WSU Creamery Manager John Haugen said.

Cheese sales, Cougar Gold in particular, increase during the holiday season because customers buy tins as Christmas gifts, he said.

Cheese is bought from the creamery by people all over the country as most winter sales are made online, he said. Although the creamery does produce other goods like ice cream, Haugen said cheese is their biggest seller.

The famous cheese was also included on The Washington Post’s 2018 Christmas gift guide.

He said people love Cougar Gold cheese because it goes with everything.

“The flavor is a big part of it and just it’s a special part of the university,” he said. “Started back in the [1940s] and just grew to the point where it’s at and it’s still growing.”

The reason for Cougar Gold’s popularity is thanks to the science behind the cheese-making process, Haugen said.

“Cougar Gold has got a second cheese culture in it that a cheddar cheese doesn’t have,” he said, “so that’s what … makes it a sweeter, nuttier flavor than what you get with a cheddar cheese.”

Creamery staff members do not change much of what they do in preparation for the big increase, Haugen said. The start of the school year is very busy for them because of the football season, so they are already staffed accordingly.

“Our production schedule pretty much stays steady all the way through the year,” Haugen said. “We make cheese five days a week and we will do that all year long.”

Haugen said Cougar Gold cheese is made entirely by students. He said there are three things the creamery produces the staff takes pride in: cheese, ice cream and students with experience.

The creamery hires students to work in all different aspects of the business, he said.

“We’re all one company with the three different departments,” Haugen said. “Ferdinand’s over the counter, production department and then the direct marketing department.”