It’s 77 degrees on a Friday in July when I buy 24 minutes at a Washington State University parking meter to visit the school’s creamery, Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe.I think 24 minutes should be plenty of time to buy ice cream for me and two of my kids, but when I get to the entrance I find a snaking line 27 people deep.
“Is there a special event here?” one woman asks another.
The answer is no. People just want ice cream.
WSU’s creamery is fairly famous for its canned Cougar Cheese, also sold here. Turns out its ice cream has quite a reputation, too. An observation room offers views of the making of each — live if people are working or on video if they are not.
Judging by the fact it is sold out, Cougar Tracks — vanilla ice cream with swirls of fudge and peanut butter cups — is one of the most popular choices. There are more than a dozen other flavors to choose from, with standards like chocolate and strawberry to layered flavors like Apple Cup Crisp, vanilla with apple flavoring, caramel, oatmeal cookies and spices; and Tin Lizzy Classic, vanilla with caramel swirls and chocolate-covered toffee pieces. There’s Huckleberry and Blackberry Ripples and Caramel Cashew.
“Is it always this busy?” I ask one of the half dozen college students working the counter.
“It is on Friday,” says the young woman, bustling to serve the next person in line.
The kids choose Mint Chip (93 cents for a junior scoop). I get Cappuccino Chip, a rich coffee flavored ice cream with a hint of grit amidst chocolate espresso chips ($3.15 double scoop). Ferdinand’s also sells hand-packed pints and quarts ($4 to $6.75) and 3-gallon tubs ($40); along with malts and milk shakes made from milk produced by WSU’s dairy cows ($2.69 and up).
We find a seat at an outdoor table and watch more people arrive, decamping with negative two minutes on the meter.