WSU Creamery

History of the WSU Creamery & Cougar Gold®

 

Cougar cheese is a unique product with a history that is just as interesting. Whether you've been snacking on our product for years or have just been introduced to it - you should be interested in its origins here at Washington State University.

 

Taking a break outside Troy Hall.
Charles Marshall (left) takes a break outside of Troy Hall with a co-worker.

The Early Days

In 1902, the Dairy Manufacturing Plant burned down and a replacement brick building was constructed west of College Hall. This new building housed the Creamery, two laboratories, two classrooms and a few offices for faculty. Construction of Troy Hall began in 1918, but was stopped due to lack of funding.

The state legislature voted to fund the completion of Troy Hall in 1921 while the Dairy Department conducted its business in a rented building in downtown Pullman. In 1923, they moved back to campus and set up shop in Wilson Hall. In 1926, construction of Troy Hall was completed and occupied by the Dairy Department and the Milk House, a private dairy company leasing the space from the University.

Troy Hall on the Pullman Campus, circa 1924.  Inset with a Milk House truck preparing to load.
Milk cart from the Washington State College Cream Station being pulled by pigs.

1930's

In the late 1930's, the Creamery became interested in different ways to store cheese. Cans seemed to be the best option because plastic was not yet invented and wax cracked (enabling contamination). In the 1940's, the US government and American Can Company funded WSU's research to find a way to successfully keep the cheese in tins. One of the cheeses resulting from the research was so wonderful that it was dubbed "Cougar Gold®," after Dr. N. S. Golding - one of the men involved in this research. Canned Cougar Gold® has been in production ever since.

1940's

In the 1940's, WSU ceased working with contractors to make cheese. In beginning their own operations, Ferdinand's was born. To this day, Ferdinand's is the ever-popular ice cream shoppe on campus that sells delicious dairy products to Pullman residents, WSU students and visitors.

Customers at Ferdinand's.

Canning of Cougar Cheeses.
   

1950 - 1970's

Research and teaching continued at the Creamery throughout this period of time. Milk and ice cream products were made to feed hungry WSU students in the dining halls. When the students left during the summer months, the Creamery began to produce cheese so as to not waste the milk.

The raking of cheese curds.

 

Milling cheese loaves back into curds.

Creamery milk truck.

Late 1970's

In the late 1970's, WSU dining halls began buying their fluid milk from a commercial dairy at a lower cost, and the Creamery began to produce cheese year round. The revenue from its cheese and ice cream sales was, and is, able to fully support the Creamery as well as important research conducted at the University.

1980 - 1992

Production and sales continued to increase and the vision of a new production facility began to form. Production was maxed out in the Troy Hall facility and industry standards had changed. $1 from every can of cheese was put in a building fund for a number of years to bring that vision into reality.

1992 - Present

In May of 1992, the Creamery moved from its old home in Troy Hall to a fantastic and modern new location in the Food Quality Building. This new facility allows the Creamery to be at the forefront of research in cheese production. It allows WSU students to gain work experience directly applicable to the work they may be doing in the Food Science field upon graduating.

The Creamery currently produces 250,000 cans of cheese each year, 80% of which is Cougar Gold®. The cheeses are sold at Ferdinand's, through the Creamery's Direct Marketing Department for shipment, at local Pullman retailers, WSU bookstores throughout Washington and other selected retail locations. Yes, Cougar Cheese is adored world-wide! Moreover, 18,000 gallons of ice cream (20 flavors in all!) are produced and sold annually through Ferdinand's and other locations on the WSU campus.

Retired Creamery Manager Marc Bates at Ferdinand's Ice Cream Shoppe, located in the Food Quality Building on the WSU-Pullman Campus.

Cougar Cheese is a treat enjoyed around the globe and will continue to withstand the test of time. Stop by for a visit when you are in town.


Purchasing cheese from the WSU Creamery helps support student employees of Washington State University by providing competitive wages and valuable work experiences. A portion of the revenue from the sale of WSU Creamery products is used for educational support of Food Science students.

Click here for a schedule of Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Click here for a list of upcoming WSU Creamery events.

 

Click here to order the Cheese of the Month Club.

Give a gift that's simple to give, yet leaves a lasting impression. The Cheese of the Month Club allows you to give a different cheese every month for three to eight months. You choose the variety and frequency at which they are delivered. At your instruction, we will announce your gift by mailing a certificate letter. Each shipment is a 30 ounce can.
Click here to order.

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WSU Creamery, PO Box 641122, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1122, 800-457-5442, Contact Us