University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

For real?

Hockey rink ice to be recycled into frozen treats

Student eating fake SnoCone ice
Photograph by Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist


For real?

Hockey rink ice to be recycled into frozen treats

by Thomas Weaver

On April 1, 2014, UVM Communications ran this article on the university’s homepage and aggressively promoted it via social media. Thousands read, liked, commented, shared, or re-tweeted the piece, which earned UVM a spot on another “Best of” list: The Guardian’s “April Fools’ Day Jokes 2014—The Best on the Web.”

For years, alumni and locals have pined for the days when UVM Ice Cream was made on campus and served at the now defunct Dairy Bar. With plans in the works to create an innovative new food product at the university, fans of frozen treats will once again have a way to indulge their sweet tooth while showing their Catamount pride.

Catamount Ice, a frozen dessert that developers liken to Hawaiian shaved ice or the ever-popular Sno Cone, will be made with repurposed ice shavings “harvested” by the Gutterson rink Zamboni machines. The product will initially be sold exclusively at UVM athletic events beginning fall 2014. But Christopher McCabe, assistant vice president for marketing and business development, says he sees strong potential to grow the market beyond the university.

Like many forward-thinking ideas at UVM—from university-wide recycling to banning the sale of bottled water on campus—students have initiated this change. The spark for Catamount Ice came from senior Connor Daley, president of the Student Government Association (SGA). Daley was walking into the Gucciardi Fitness Center one day when his gaze fell on the familiar pile of frozen Zamboni shavings dumped outside of the ice rink.

“I thought, ‘What a waste,’” Daley recalls. “Just melting away in the sun and, quite likely, contributing to over-burdened stormwater runoff systems.” When the UVM senior passed the Hawaiian shaved ice cart on Church Street later that same day, the proverbial light bulb switched on. He shared the idea with fellow SGA members, who encouraged him to take it forward.

Though initially skeptical, UVM administrators soon embraced the concept as a way to introduce a promising new revenue stream, lessen the university’s ecological footprint, and promote Catamount pride. When university food scientists suggested helping to fight the state’s invasive species by incorporating some of these plants, animals, and insects into the product flavoring, the idea truly caught fire.

“Of course we’ll have old standards like raspberry and grape, and it wouldn’t be Vermont if we didn’t offer maple,” says Provost David Rosowsky. “But we’re also intrigued by what we can do with something like a Purple Loosestrife or Wild Chervil Catamount Ice. Who’s to say there’s not an essence of flavor in the sea lamprey that wouldn’t make for an interesting new taste sensation?”

From a sports-marketing perspective, McCabe draws a comparison to the “game-worn” jerseys that have proven to be a popular item in online auctions. “Our fans love the fact that they know Chris McCarthy or Amanda Pelkey was out there on the ice playing hard and sweating in that actual jersey. That’s value-added, plain and simple,” McCabe says. “Similarly, when you dig into a Catamount Ice, you’ll be part of the action. Sweat, blood, tears—our players leave it all on the ice and now fans can more fully experience that.”

As the university makes preparations to drop the puck on Catamount Ice during next fall’s home athletic events, everyone from the Zamboni drivers to the university president is enthused. “I applaud the bold thinking that hatched this idea and the hard work of many that will see it through to next fall’s product launch,” says UVM President Tom Sullivan. “What’s more, I would like to wish the entire university family a happy April Fools Day.”

Get next year’s April Fools’ story—uh, not that we’re saying there will necessarily be one—on the day itself, rather than three months later. Follow UVM on Twitter (UVMVermont), Facebook(University of Vermont), and Instagram (University of Vermont).

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