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Staying cool as semester heats up

Scrappy's ice creamThe sizzling heat of summer is in full force as fall classes get into full swing, but respite from the near triple-digit weather is waiting in the form of Scrappy’s ice cream. 

The line of UNT-made treats, named after the university’s mascot, are sold at retail locations on campus, hand dipped at Kerr Hall during the school year and offered through catering.

Among Scrappy’s flavors you’ll find the traditional vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and cookies ‘n cream classics and the more inventive chocolate peanut butter crunch, honey sunflower seed and seasonal favorite spice pumpkin sweet cream.

While summer is slower for ice cream production on campus, the start of school in August means it “goes into overdrive,” Peter Balabuch, director of residential dining services, said.

Balabuch, who helped launch Scrappy’s Ice Cream in 2012, has watched it take off.

“We were going through about 52 gallons of ice cream a night, just at Kerr when we first started batching our own ice cream,” he said. “Year over year, I know we’ve seen an increase in the amount of ice cream that’s gone out. The popularity of it has just grown tremendously on campus.”

The university uses an Emery Thompson batch freezer that can generate 12 gallons of super, premium ice cream within 10 minutes.

Students and staff do offer suggestions for flavors, but sometimes a new flavor is related to what’s served in the dining halls. For example, a candied ginger ice cream was produced on a day when Kerr Hall was serving Asian cuisine because of the ginger on hand for the stir-fry recipes.

“I’ll take any flavor suggestion that I can produce at least 12 gallons of at one time,” Balabuch said with a laugh. “That’s my minimum batch.”

Jeremy Grace, known as “the ice cream man” on campus, mixes the ingredients and cranks out gallons of Scrappy’s for the UNT community. The ice cream headquarters is Kerr Hall.

“Probably the best part (of the job) is the fact that I have to try my product before I send it out to anybody. I have to do quality control – often,” he said, laughing. “That is one of the perks.”

Getting to taste his creation is just part of the fun, though. The chance to be creative is another bonus.

Ahead for Scrappy’s is figuring out how to add a swirl into the ice cream and moving forward with gelatos, Balabuch said.  

“It’s the logical progression,” he said of gelatos. “Hopefully this year we can work through the gelatos, master the sorbets, and then also knock out some sherbets too.”

Grace is excited about tackling new blends.

“Anytime I get to play around and stretch out creatively is fun, seeing what kind of boundaries we can push and what will work and what won’t,” he said.

With concoctions such as chocolate avocado and red velvet and cream cheese, what wild flavor does UNT enjoy best?

“Cookies ‘n cream – hands down,” Balabuch said.

“People think that all these weird decadent flavors are popular, but really and truly, besides cookies ‘n cream, what I’ve seen is the vanilla and chocolate and strawberry are the big sellers,” he said. “But on this campus, they kill some cookies ‘n cream.”

Grace agreed: “I can make 15 gallons of that, and it will be gone in a couple of days.”

Grace and Balabuch also agreed that if you try Scrappy’s once, you’ll be a repeat customer.

“If you want a cold treat on a hot day that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, come to UNT,” Balabuch said. “I promise you’ll come back.”

—Megan Middleton, student assistant, URCM

Above, Jeremy Grace freezes a batch of Scrappy's ice cream, while Kristin Loschiavo fills some individual serving cups at Kerr Hall. (Photo by Michael Clements / URCM)

Posted on: Thu 04 September 2014

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