Campus History

Honorary Ice Cream Flavors

The UW’s displays of gratitude come in a cup or a cone.

Three ice cream cones personified as former chancellor Rebecca Blank (Bec-Key Lime Pie), former band director Mike Leckrone (March On Leckrone), and former chancellor Biddy Martin (Strawbiddy Swirl).

Mnookie Dough, Babcock Dairy’s latest sensation, joins (left to right) Bec-Key Lime Pie, March On Leckrone, and Berry Alvarez. Danielle Lamberson Philipp

Commemoration comes in many forms on a college campus: an honorary degree, an eponymous building, a named scholarship, a seat in the bleachers. The UW also doles out honor by the scoop.

Stocked among Babcock Dairy’s classic vanilla and bold-but-beloved orange custard chocolate chip are cheeky flavors whose limited runs in campus dipping cabinets serve as sweet shows of affection for some of the UW’s most iconic figures. Berry Alvarez, a berry-flavored base with strawberries, raspberries, and a blueberry ribbon, riffs on the former athletic director’s first name while channeling the deep red of his iconic sweater. Upon his retirement in 2019, marching band director Mike Leckrone left a delicious legacy with March On Leckrone, a vanilla ice cream with a cranberry swirl and white chocolate flakes that is equal parts Wisconsin flavor and Leckronian flair. Bec-Key Lime Pie, a key lime ice cream with a graham cracker swirl, debuted upon former chancellor Rebecca Blank’s arrival in 2013. Most recently, Babcock welcomed Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin with Mnookie Dough, a vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel and fudge ribbons and studded with cookie dough pieces.

“The dairy plant and store staff work closely with campus leadership to develop products in a thoughtful way, almost like an important memorandum or a message coming out from campus,” says Scott Rankin, chair and professor in the UW Department of Food Science, describing the formulation of an honorary flavor.

Other odes-by-ice-cream include Strawbiddy Swirl, a Wisconsin welcome to former chancellor Biddy Martin PhD’85 in 2008; Frankly Righteous Raspberry, an eclectic blend of vanilla ice cream with a fudge swirl, raspberries, and mint chocolate pieces worthy of the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright x1890; and Morgridge Marble Medley, a vanilla base with butterscotch and fudge swirls, brownies, and pecans, which honored a $100 million gift to the university from John ’55 and Tashia ’55 Morgridge in 2014.

Whether the final product reflects more of the individual’s preferences or personality depends in part on the whims of the honoree and on the bounds of what can be achieved in the medium of ice cream. When dreaming up a new flavor, Babcock’s staff have to consider the composition of the frozen base dessert, potential allergens of added flavors or mix-ins, and the ways that ingredients will affect the ice cream’s texture and melt. So far, Rankin says, no custom concoction has been too creative for Babcock’s ice cream team to churn out.

“We all have long, hard days and complicated decisions to make,” Rankin says. “We need to have a little fun with something as enjoyable as ice cream.”

Published in the Summer 2023 issue


  • Jon Schneider June 13, 2023

    Personally, I miss “Praise To Thee My Almond Mocha”.

  • Susan Notar June 13, 2023

    I loved sunflower that was like butter pecan but with sunflowers, and the banana chocolate fudge was to die for!

  • Kris Ellingsen August 11, 2023

    YES, please bring back Banana Fudge 🙂

  • Al Ruplinger August 19, 2023

    Jon: Thanks for remembering “Praise to Thee Our Almand Mocha”. I still have fond memories of winning the sesquicentennial contest. As a 1993 alum, it feels good to know I left a small mark on the storied history of UW. Go Badgers.

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